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This article was published 21/9/2018 (1047 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The eighth annual Farm to School Manitoba fundraiser kicked off at Technical Vocational High School last week with a fitting provincial proclamation.
During the fundraiser, which runs Sept. 19 to Dec. 12, schools and daycares across Manitoba sell locally grown produce provided by Farm to School to others in their community. Fifty per cent of the proceeds from each veggie drive goes back to the participating organizations.
"This program makes it easier for families to access fresh, healthy, delicious Manitoba-grown products and the opportunity to raise money for their schools and childcare centres," Minister of Agriculture Ralph Eichler said during the event.
Eichler also gave Manitobans an annual reminder to eat their vegetables by proclaiming Sept. 19 as Local Veggie Day.
Roughly 270 schools and daycares took part in the fundraising program last year, which is supported by the province and the Manitoba Association of Home Economists with vegetables coming from Peak of the Market growers.
"It goes beyond just giving someone something to eat," Farm to School program co-ordinator Melodie Ho said.
Not only does the healthy product support school nutrition guidelines, those who purchase small ($12) or large ($22) bundles of produce can choose take the order home or have it donated to a local food bank. Some of the produce also ends up in home economics or culinary arts programs like the one offered at Tec Voc.
"The program can impact students beyond just funding a project or an initiative, it also gives them learning opportunities," Ho said.
During the kick-off event students in the school’s culinary program served soup, coleslaw, carrot muffins and other food from the vegetables included in the Farm to School fundraising bundles. The students also made a local food-themed lunch menu from the produce for the school’s cafeteria.
Farm to School delivers the bundles for the fundraiser for free to schools in every corner of the province — even the most isolated.
"This year, we’ll fly the Farm to School vegetables to Churchill — it’s very expensive, but it’s important that we don’t exclude any Manitoba community," said Larry McIntosh, president and chief executive officer of Peak of the Market.
There is a fifty bundle minimum required to participate, schools and daycares can enrol at farmtoschoolmanitoba.ca to schedule a produce delivery date.
Eva Wasney is a reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press.