a bin of sliced carrotsMMSD Food & Nutrition and REAP Food Group are celebrating a major accomplishment in sourcing fresh, healthy, locally grown produce in public school meal service. In the last week of February and first week of March, over 2,100 pounds of locally grown carrots and kohlrabi will land in the cafeterias of every elementary school.

On February 25 and March 2, students will eat over 1,300 combined pounds of local carrots grown by Growing Power, a non-profit urban agriculture organization based in Milwaukee. On February 26 and March 3, students will eat nearly 1,000 pounds of local kohlrabi, grown by Mammoth Produce in Randolph, WI. Both kohlrabi and carrots were grown within 70 miles of Madison.

Winter months are some of the most difficult to source local produce for use in schools, but an innovative relationship between REAP, MMSD, Mammoth Produce, Growing Power, and the Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen is making this exciting effort possible. The Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen in Mineral Point is a commercial kitchen owned and operated by Hodan Community Services, a program supporting people with disabilities. This is their first time processing produce for direct purchase by MMSD, and the establishment of this path from producer to processor to school district is a major milestone in Madison’s Farm to School program.

Jill in a carrot costume holding carrotsREAP Food Group is a Madison-based non-profit organization focused on building a healthful, just, and sustainable regional food system. Each week, REAP serves over 5,500 servings of fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables in MMSD elementary schools that participate in the USDA Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Grant program, which means they serve a high percentage of students qualifying for the free/reduced price school meals program. REAP conducts a variety of Farm to School programming and efforts including classroom education and coordination of fresh, healthy, locally grown produce sourced into MMSD’s meal program.

Madison Metropolitan School District serves over 25,000 students in elementary, middle and high schools. Since 2011, MMSD has implemented salad bars (known in the schools as “garden bars” ) at over 25 schools, providing more students the opportunity to choose from a variety of fruits and vegetables every day.

For more information please contact, 204-4001 or https://food.madison.k12.wi.us/

Pictured: Jill, REAP Food Group AmeriCorps Staff promoting healthy eating habits!