LYONS, NEBRASKA – October is National Farm to School month, and schools across the state are celebrating with Nebraska Thursdays, a new program open for enrollment, sponsored by Center for Rural Affairs and Nebraska Department of Education-Nutrition Services.
Participating schools serve a locally-sourced meal in their cafeterias on the first Thursday of each month.
“Sourcing Nebraska products encourages fresh, local and healthy meals in the school cafeteria, educates students about Nebraska agriculture, and boost our local economies,” said Sandra Renner, project associate at Center for Rural Affairs.
Funded by a USDA Farm to School grant, five schools across Nebraska participated in a Nebraska Thursdays pilot program during the 2017-2018 school year. Those schools were Omaha Public Schools, Litchfield Public School, Overton Public School, Thayer Central Community School, and Wayne Community Schools.
According to Sharon Davis, director of Nebraska Department of Education-Nutrition Services, the efforts of the five pilot schools impacted almost 42,000 students and resulted in thousands of food dollars staying in the Nebraska economy.
The pilot program also resulted in the creation of resources, promotional items, and an interactive recipe portal. These resources and more are available upon enrollment in the program. Sign up information and stories about each of the five pilot schools can be found at:education.ne.gov/nethursdays or cfra.org/f2s/NebraskaThursdays
“Community members interested in starting a Nebraska Thursdays program, or farm and food businesses interested in supplying menu items, are encouraged to reach out to local school districts about this opportunity,” said Renner.
Additional support for Nebraska Thursdays comes from the Nebraska Dry Bean Commission, Midwest Dairy Council, and Nebraska Beef Council.