Farm to Cafeteria workshops planned

farmToCafeFarmers, growers, food-service professionals and others are invited to upcoming workshops – including two in the Twin Cities area – designed to get more local food into the cafeterias of schools and other institutions.

The Farm to Cafeteria Workshops are being held by the University of Minnesota Extension Service, with help from the U of M Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships, Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture, the Institute for a Sustainable Future, and Renewing the Countryside. Funding is provided by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.

The workshops are designed to cultivate partnerships between food growers and institutional food buyers, including those who operate school lunch programs. Topics include purchasing local food on a budget, on-farm safety and marketing local food, and nutritional education in the classroom.

This year’s gatherings build on an earlier round of Farm to Cafeteria workshops. In 2010, more than 600 Minnesotans attended eight regional workshops that were aimed to inspire, inform and build support for local food to local institutions.

“When schools buy food from nearby producers, their purchasing power helps create local jobs and economic benefits, particularly in rural agricultural communities,” said USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan. “Evidence also suggests that when kids understand more about where food comes from and how it’s produced, they are more likely to make healthy eating choices.”

An east-metro workshop will be held from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Feb. 14 at Gustavus Adolphus Lutheran Church, 1669 Arcade St., St. Paul. A west-metro workshop will be held 2 to 7:30 p.m. Feb. 28 at Christ the King Lutheran Church, 8600 Freemont Ave. S., Bloomington. Other workshops are Feb. 4 in Mahnomen, Feb. 12 in Lamberton, March 7 in Rochester, March 8-9 in Duluth, and April 3 in Staples.

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