Gundersen Health System is an active member of the Farm2School Program. What is this program? The Farm2School program helps to build and establish partnerships between K-5th grade schools and local farmers to encourage healthy eating and proper nutrition among students and their families. This program is unique to each state and it can be found in all states. La Crosse County participates in the Farm2School program and Gundersen’s Certified Executive Chef (C.E.C) Thomas Sacksteder supports this program by visiting local schools during the school year to educate students on healthy eating and recipes. This program also includes a “Harvest of the Month” in which one local food is selected and promoted throughout schools. Chef Thomas uses the “Harvest of the Month” in the recipes he showcases to students. Chef Thomas has received many awards because of the success with the Farm2School program.
Chef Thomas also received two grants from the American Culinary Federation (ACF) “Chefs Move to Schools” program. This program enables chefs and schools to form a partnership to encourage healthy eating and proper nutrition for students. This program was started by First Lady Michelle Obama and White House Senior Policy Advisor for Healthy Food Initiatives, Sam Kass, in May, 2010. These grants have supported a project created by Chef Thomas called the “Chef Thomas Bean Challenge.” Students are given packets of beans at the start of the summer and are encouraged to plant them. In 2013 his challenge reached 5,500 students.
How does the Farm2School program relate to sustainability? The Farm2School program educates students about eating healthy local food. Showcasing local foods supports local farmers and the environment. How does this help the environment? Food purchased by local farmers does not have to travel as far, which saves fuel and energy which in turn is better for the environment. Buying local also supports the local economy and provides people with fresher food. If you are part of an institution or an individual interested in partaking in this program check out the helpful links below!