Students Battle for the Crunch Off Crown


October 28, 2020

Mrs. Scofield's third graders take a bite of their apples as they participate in the Crunch Off.

Aubree Roth, the Montana Farm to School Coordinator and Montana Team Nutrition Program Member from Bozeman, invited all schools involved with Farm to School and Team Nutrition Programs to participate in Montana Crunch as part of National Farm to School Month. Principal at Meadowlark School, Shane Bartschi registered the school, and students participated on October 22.

Head Cook for Chinook School District, Heidi Brown washed and bagged the apples in the morning, counting out an apple for every student and teacher and preparing a sack to be delivered to each classroom. Then, a little after 1:00 on Thursday, school lunchroom personnel started taking apples around to the classrooms so that students could crunch.

"In years past, Barb Ranstrom would often bring apples from the orchards in the Flathead Valley, but this year our apples actually came from Frahm Orchards in Nampa, Idaho. At least they are a regional crop," Brown explained.

In addition to twenty-eight varieties of apples, Frahm Orchards also grow peaches, cherries, apricots, pears, nectarines, and plums. Apples are Idaho's number one fruit crop, topping 60 million pounds harvested per year.

Montana Crunch Time is a statewide event to observe National Food Day and National Farm to School Month in Montana by crunching into locally and regionally grown apples. On Crunch Day, youth and adults from Big Fork to Sidney grabbed an apple and celebrated farm to school connections and healthy communities.

This year, Montana is participating in the Mountain Plains Crunch Off with Colorado, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming. The state that gets the most "crunches" into a local apple, or other local produce, per capita will win.

According to Roth, Montana Crunch Time has grown every year, and she's hoping for good numbers this year. "As a Crunch Off participant, you will join students, teachers, farmers, parents, community members, and local food enthusiasts in celebrating the wonderful produce the Mountain Plains Region has to offer. Your Crunch efforts will encourage healthy eating and support local agriculture while observing Farm to School Month and shedding light on the efforts of our child nutrition partners," she said.

Roth went on to explain that Farm to School, including Beef to School, is more of a movement or an umbrella term for programs that connect children to their food through the three core elements of Farm to School: buying and serving local foods in child nutrition programs, gardening/raising food with children, and providing nutrition, agriculture, and food-based education.

"Schools do not 'sign up' for these programs; they implement them in a way that fits their school and community. The programs I manage support them in farm to school activities by providing resources, materials, training, and support. We do not provide or coordinate the purchase of local foods for the schools. However, we do help connect them to producers and businesses that might be able to meet their needs," Roth explained.

Parker Paulsen - Kindergarten.

Meadowlark School plans to share their "crunch byte" video and photos on social media with #MTCrunchTime.


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