October Is Proclaimed Farms To School Month - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

October Is Proclaimed Farms To School Month

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MISSOULA -

October is Farm to School Month in the Treasure State. Superintendent Denise Juneau made the official proclamation on Monday.

As Missoula's FoodCorps Service Member, Peter Kerns helps maintain school gardens, and teaches food and nutrition at local schools.

"It's very important that kids know how to grow food, and also know where it comes from, so they can make healthier choices," Kerns said.

According to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, in 2013 the obesity rate in every state was at least 20%, with it holding steady 20% in Montana. A recent Montana Food Bank Network report also shows almost 90,000 Montana children are at risk of hunger.

"There really is a very serious childhood obesity epidemic in this country, as well as a lot of food insecurity, not only here in Montana but across the county," Kerns said.

He said FoodCorps' idea is to stop these problems, while giving the economy a much-needed boost.

"The more dollars we spend in our communities and for neighboring farmers, the more one stays in Montana," Kerns said.

FoodCorps works from ten locations in Montana to promote the farm to school idea. Kristen Gerbatsch is the team leader for service members in each area.

"Across the state it's pretty amazing how the network is forming between schools, community organizations and non profits," Gerbatsch said.

The garden at Paxson Elementary School is just one of about seven around Missoula, and FoodCorps officials said they hope that number only grows.

"All 17 Missoula County Public Schools we'd like to have school gardens in eventually," Kerns said.

In celebration of Farm to School month, schools across the state are serving up healthy meals with locally-grown food.

Montana FoodCorps and other statewide partners have a guide to help schools across the state participate in Farm to School month.

For more information about farm-to-school programs go to the Montana Office of Public Instruction website.

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