School may not be in session during the summer, but Lintons District Managers and Directors of Operations were hard at work using this time to prepare for the year ahead. This time is used to work on various projects to enhance the programs of the schools we serve. This past summer, several leaders in the Education Division were tasked with taking the Harvest of the Month (HOTM) program, offered by state Departments of Education, to a new level by building a complete, well-rounded promotional program. HOTM is a farm-to-school initiative designed to raise awareness of the benefits of eating local fruits and vegetables. HOTM typically provides materials for students, families, and the community to engage in hands-on opportunities to explore, taste, and learn about the importance of eating fruits and vegetables every day.
The program has been expanded upon by Lintons for the upcoming school year and is accessible through the SMART Café website. In the past, Lintons used the provided information from the Departments of Education and shared it with the students, teachers and parents. That was where the program ended.
The enhanced HOTM program includes:
- crafting a theme meal to be enjoyed every month featuring the HOTM item
- online resources for families to learn about HOTM at home
- monthly posters with educational fun facts about fruits and vegetables targeted towards kids
In the future, the HOTM program will include more meals featuring the HOTM product in the weekly cycle menus along with identifying signage at the point of service.
HOTM was chosen as a summer project to increase the expansion of education and introduction of local produce to the students Lintons serves. Patrick Tarr, Senior Director of Operations, stated, “The HOTM state programs were underutilized and presented a great opportunity for our leaders to expand upon them to focus on buying and eating local. Many of our students don’t have the exposure to local, seasonal produce and the expanded HOTM program will help to spread awareness in a fun, educational way.”
Some of the featured items of HOTM are: apples, potatoes, winter squash, and tomatoes. Lintons is using recipes that are part of the HOTM program and incorporating them into the monthly theme meals. Connecting items that are produced and purchased locally to a meal served to a student in their school cafeteria is a wonderful way to introduce healthy eating while making it fun and personal. Introducing fruits and vegetables in this way may lead to continued interest in eating these items once the students leave school. Learning good eating habits early in life helps students to achieve more academically and physically in the future.