Louisiana Harvest of the Month Tool Kit

Program Overview

Purpose

This resource is for any organization, business or school seeking to motivate and empower students to increase consumption and enjoyment of local agricultural products in Louisiana. This tool kit will help guide you to use the resources available through Louisiana Farm to School and implement a successful Louisiana Harvest of the Month program.

Electronic versions and updates of the Louisiana Harvest of the Month Tool Kit are available on the LSU AgCenter Louisiana Farm to School website at www.LSUAgCenter.com/LouisianaFarmtoSchool.

Description

The Louisiana Harvest of the Month program (LA HOM) is designed to bring fresh local agricultural products into participating schools and communities. Each month, one Louisiana agricultural product is highlighted throughout the school. The product is purchased through the school and served in the cafeteria as a meal, snack or taste test. LA HOM allows schools and districts to start small and grow at a rate at which they feel comfortable and confident.

The objective of the Louisiana Harvest of the Month Tool Kit is to:

  • Increase access to local fruits, vegetables and other agricultural products through school meal programs, classrooms and gardens.
  • Create an opportunity for students to try local products and develop a preference for them.
  • Increase knowledge and familiarity with local agricultural products.
  • Increase meal participation.
  • Increase morale and knowledge among food service staff.
  • Provide a significant financial opportunity for local farmers.



Louisiana Harvest of the Month Produce List

  • Blueberries
  • Broccoli
  • Citrus
  • Mushrooms
  • Lettuce
  • Strawberries
  • Tomatoes
  • Cabbage
  • Cucumbers
  • Peppers
  • Summer squash
  • Watermelon
  • Catfish
  • Eggplant
  • Shrimp
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Winter squash

In 2018, we introduced two new Harvest of the Month featured products: shrimp and catfish. These can be included in any month you would like to feature them or any month when you have a hard time finding local produce. However, you should keep in mind that National Seafood Month is October.

Please note: If you have food allergies in your school that restrict you from serving certain foods featured in Louisiana Harvest of the Month, or if your school does not serve a particular item, please choose one of the other Harvest of the Month products to feature for that month.



Tool Kit Elements

The Louisiana Harvest of the Month Tool Kit is composed of four key elements: Family Engagement and Promotion, Education, Recipes and School Gardens.

Family Engagement and Promotion

  • Target user: Project coordinators, educators, child nutrition staff, administration, business owners
  • Target audience: General public
  • Each Harvest of the Month is featured on an 11-inch by 17-inch poster.

Menu Templates

  • Target user: Child nutrition staff
  • Target audience: Students, parents
  • LA HOM menu templates allow child nutrition staff to insert the monthly school menu.

Social Media Images

  • Target user: Project coordinators, educators, child nutrition staff
  • Target audience: Students, parents
  • Great for marketing to engage families on your social media sites, advertise your menu and encourage kids to try featured products.

Newsletter Content

  • Target user: Project coordinators, educators, child nutrition staff
  • Target audience: Students, parents
  • Reinforce what kids are learning about LA HOM and provide parents with nutrition information, healthy eating tips, and tips for selecting, storing and serving the featured product.

“I Tried It!” Stickers

  • Target user: Taste test facilitators
  • Target audience: Taste test participants (usually students)
  • Utilize the “I Tried It!” stickers to encourage participants to try new foods.

Home Recipes

  • Target user: Project coordinators, educators, child nutrition staff, school administration
  • Target audience: Students, parents
  • The LA HOM home recipes feature each Harvest of the Month in tested recipes that are culturally relevant, designed with few ingredients and easy to prepare.



Education and Curriculum Integration

Evidence-Based Nutrition Education Resources

All resources and curricula in this section are offered by the USDA or featured in the SNAP-Ed toolkit.


Classroom Resources



School Gardens

Louisiana Growing Guides and Educational Resources

Seeds to Success

Seeds to Success is a branch of the LSU AgCenter’s Louisiana Farm to School Program. The goal of Seeds to Success is to support school gardens with practical growing information and lessons to integrate what you grow into the classroom and home-based learning.

About the Program

We believe that our relationship with food transforms when we are able to experience it unfolding from seed to plate. This program provides engaging educational materials for teachers, parents and students related to agriculture and nutrition to use at both school and home. Visit www.seedstosuccess.com for growing guides, lesson plans and activities for K-12 students, and free gardening materials for Louisiana teachers.

Join the Seeds to Success Facebook Group at www.facebook.com/groups/seedstosuccessla to connect with fellow Louisiana gardeners and teachers in an open, interactive forum. Ask and answer gardening questions, exchange tips on lesson plans and activities, and share valuable resources.



Recipes

Louisiana Harvest of the Month recipes are available in two formats: home and standardized for cafeteria use.

All recipes are available on the Louisiana Harvest of the Month website. Follow the link, then click on each harvest to see recipes using that product. www.lsuagcenter.com/topics/food_health/farm%20to%2...



Implementing Harvest of the Month

Getting Started

A successful Harvest of the Month program is a team effort. The strength of Harvest of the Month lies in its ability to reach students in a variety of settings and where they are able to be most impacted — the classroom, cafeteria, home and community. The success of your Harvest of the Month program depends on the people who implement it and the staff who work directly with the students to increase their knowledge of, access to and preference for fruits and vegetables.

Steps and Tips to Implement Harvest of the Month

  • Gather support within the school community.
  • Coordinate with the child nutrition program.
  • Create your schedule.
  • Find Harvest of the Month products from local producers.
  • Decide how you will highlight each item for each month.
  • Coordinate with regional or parish-level health and nutrition campaigns or school garden groups.
  • Highlight the LA HOM on your lunch menu using the promotional materials for signage.
  • Post the LA HOM graphics and newsletter content on your school and school nutrition website.
  • Send a letter home to families.
  • Share the LA HOM newsletter content via print, email or parent portal.
  • Use school Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts to promote Harvest of the Month. \
  • Post LA HOM signage in cafeterias and throughout the school.
  • Have food service staff and lunch monitors encourage students to try LA HOM menu items and engage students.
  • Do taste tests.
  • In the cafeteria: Start by posting LA HOM posters and graphics. Set up a table or walk around with a tray of samples so students who didn’t buy lunch get a chance to try the LA HOM item. Engage students by telling them what they are tasting and where it was grown. Ask what they think of the food they are trying.
  • Integrate Harvest of the Month into your educational curricula.

Searching Louisiana MarketMaker for Local Products

See PDF for instructions.


Gathering Support at Your School

The support and involvement of the child nutrition staff is vital to the success of Harvest of the Month. By involving others in the process, you can gain program support, which will lead to a more successful implementation. Utilize the Harvest of the Month information flier as a general program overview along with LA HOM 101 fliers.

Gathering Support in Your Community

Involve Teachers, Principals, Superintendents and School Boards

  • Discuss the need for nutrition education and link it to better classroom behavior.
  • Demonstrate how incorporation of Harvest of the Month supports the federal requirement for establishing a local school wellness policy.
  • Describe how the tool kit is turnkey, allows for flexibility and provides teachers and child nutrition staff with the tools and links to Louisiana student standards.
  • Schedule a presentation for an upcoming meeting (board, staff, faculty, etc.).

Teachers:

  • Provide a taste testing demonstration to show how the Harvest of the Month featured product can be used in a classroom.
  • Highlight other available resources, such as the educator resources, newsletter content, suggested classroom activities, books and other free resources.

School Administrators (School Board, Superintendent and Principals):

  • Share stories of districts that have received positive media attention.
  • Invite them to eat a healthy breakfast or lunch with students, work in the school garden or participate in a Harvest of the Month classroom activity.

School Staff

  • Discuss possible ways to promote Harvest of the Month on campus.
  • Distribute educator resources and encourage them to adapt the lessons and activities.
  • Solicit their ideas for staff development and in-service training opportunities.
  • Discuss ways in which older students may assist in program implementation.
  • Invite them to participate by offering taste tests.
  • Share Harvest of the Month promotional materials.
  • Discuss challenges they face in promoting healthy food choices.
  • Invite them to implement their own activities.

Involve Students

  • Schedule meetings with student leaders and introduce them to Harvest of the Month.
  • Solicit their ideas on how to best implement the program .
  • Seek students' ideas and have them work with the appropriate adult to implement them.
  • Encourage students to involve their teachers and child nutrition staff to implement changes in the school environment.

Involve Parents

  • As gatekeepers to the home, parents are key in implementing a successful program.
  • Conduct parent workshop sessions at back-to-school nights and other parent meetings.
  • Emphasize the link between nutrition and improved academic performance and classroom behavior.
  • Invite them to share their experiences and skills in gardening or food preparation.
  • Invite them to volunteer in the classroom on taste testing days or to chaperone on field trips.
  • Provide content in family newsletters and engage with them through social media.

Involve Retail

  • Contact the store or produce manager to arrange a meeting or presentation.
  • Inquire with the store or produce manager to learn what they currently source locally.
  • Discuss ways in which they would like to get involved in Harvest of the Month.

Involve the Agricultural Community

  • Support from the agricultural community extends the Harvest of the Month messages and enriches students’ experiences.
  • Use the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry and Louisiana Grown as a resource.
  • Meet with local farmers, produce vendors and Louisiana Master Gardeners.
  • Arrange field trips and other special promotions with local farmers markets or farms.
  • Discuss with your district’s vocational agricultural teachers.


Spreading the Word

Connect with the Media

  • Get the media and community involved with Harvest of the Month events and activities.
  • Contact your school district to find out if they have a public information officer or a public affairs department.
  • Develop a media list of local newspapers (daily, weekly, community publications) and television and radio outlets.
  • Call reporters and let them know about Harvest of the Month events and activities.
  • Be sure to have signed parental permission slips if students are going to be interviewed or photographed.
  • Describe your activities and invite media to film or photograph students participating.
  • Capitalize on existing national and state events, like the Great Louisiana Satsuma Peel, National Farm to School Month, and National Nutrition Month.
  • Get permission from the principal, administrators and public information officers as appropriate.
  • Be a resource for the media. Develop an ongoing relationship with local media.

Connect with Local Retail

  • Conduct in-store taste testing, which creates an opportunity to try the Harvest of the Month featured product.
  • Offer grocery store tours and back-of-the-house preparation areas.
  • Promote the Harvest of the Month featured product in store by displaying the poster and including educational messages in promotional activities, samplings or displays.
  • Align store advertising to include the Harvest of the Month featured product.
  • Support local businesses with messages in advertising and sales circulars about the importance of fruits and vegetables in health.
  • Provide artwork for coupons that can be distributed with in the family newsletters.
  • Issue press releases or post information on store websites indicating that the store is a participant in Harvest of the Month.
  • Donate featured produce for classroom activities.

Connect with Other State and Regional Campaigns

Louisiana Farm to School works with other state and regional partners with their own campaigns to build healthy communities. Some of these partners include:

  • Louisiana Department of Education, Division of Nutrition
  • Louisiana FitKids
  • Louisiana Well-Ahead
  • Market Umbrella
  • Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry
  • Louisiana SNAP-Ed


Ordering Information

Harvest of the Month Posters and Other Hard Copies

Louisiana Harvest of the Month Teams and SNAP-Ed partners can order the Harvest of the Month posters, “I Tried It!” stickers, What’s In Season Charts or paper copies by emailing louisianafarmtoschool@agcenter.lsu.edu.

Harvest of the Month Digital Program Materials

To access digital materials, please register through the online survey, found here:

lsu.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_8Gnly92eThMvUq1

Other supporting materials such as guides, fliers and checklists can be found on our website at www.LSUAgCenter.com/LouisianaFarmtoSchool.

For technical support and other questions about materials, email louisianafarmtoschool@agcenter.lsu.edu.


For full details, refer to PDF publication.

1/22/2021 10:13:33 PM
Rate This Article:

Have a question or comment about the information on this page?

Innovate . Educate . Improve Lives

The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture

Top