Every day, more than 30 million children join the lunch line or open their lunchbox in the school cafeteria. As an American tradition, the National Farm to School Network (N.F.S.N.) saw an opportunity to bring locally-sourced foods into the cafeteria and teach millions of children the value of good eating habits by naming October National Farm to School Month. Since then, the N.F.S.N. has led activities and programs nationwide. SunButter shares that commitment to cultivating our communities with food.

So let’s dig in and see what makes October special. Since Congress designated October the National Farm to School Month in 2010, the annual program has grown to reach almost 43,000 schools and 24 million students across all 50 states.

While introducing local foods into the lunch menu, educators and administrators are teaching kids about agriculture and that easily-forgotten process behind your meal. School gardens are getting kids’ hands dirty. Classes are taking trips to the farmer’s market to learn about the Harvest of the Month: a local produce that’s in season. Students are exploring new foods with taste tests and nutritional activities that go beyond a simple pyramid.

Professionals in school food service have a unique opportunity to bolster this program. Visit the National Farm to School Month site for logos to include in your daily menus. Try out a few of the posters in the cafeteria to let students know what’s available. Consider putting together a salad bar or kit with as much local produce as you can, with nutritional information at the ready. But the fun shouldn’t stop at the classroom door.

Families can get involved with their own activities. Track down your local farmer’s market and incorporate new, nutritional foods into your family dinners. www.FarmFresh.org offers a seasonal crop calendar to get you started on building that menu. If possible, do your best to volunteer and get involved with National Farm to School Month at your child’s school. Chaperone the garden or just join the kids for lunch, where asking about what they are growing and eating will get them excited to learn and share more about where their food comes from.

Though October is just one month out of the year, it’s important to plan and think about your local foods year-round. Join with millions of others around the nation in letting this month kickstart new habits in your family’s eating habits.

A perfect addition to the menu is SunButter, a locally-grown and special-roasted sunflower butter. At every stage of their cultivation, the ingredients in SunButter are separated from nuts and other allergens to eliminate any risk of cross-contamination. As a product that is vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, and certified Kosher, SunButter is just one of many great ways to celebrate and invest in your community.

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