Montana-grown foods will take center stage in Gardiner on Friday, Dec. 2, when the Montana Harvest of the Month Showcase comes to Park County.
The Montana Harvest of the Month program promotes food grown in the state. Each month, participating sites spotlight a food by serving it in at least one meal, snack, or à la carte offering. Schools and early care programs also offer students taste tests and include the food in lessons and activities.
“That food might be summer squash, which isn’t going to be at the top of most kids’ lunch-time wish list. It’s amazing to see how often kids surprise themselves and really like a food they didn’t think they would,” said Local Foods Specialist Molly Kirkham of the National Center for Appropriate Technology.
NCAT heads up the Montana Harvest of the Month program along with a number of partnering organizations around the state.
“Kids often aren’t very adventurous when it comes to food. One of the primary goals of Harvest of the Month is simply to expose children — and adults — to new, healthy foods. The other goal is to support Montana’s farmers and ranchers.”
Montana Harvest of the Month also is an excellent way to launch or expand a farm-to-school or farm-to-cafeteria program since it provides an easy framework to follow and ready-to-use materials, Kirkham said.
Montana Harvest of the Month is open to K-12 schools, after-school programs, summer food service programs, early care and education facilities, food businesses, farmers markets, foodbanks, and healthcare institutions in the state.
Farmers and ranchers interested in marketing to school districts or other institutions and Children and Adult Food Care Program providers also could get a lot out of the event, she said.
“The showcase is going to be informative, and a lot of fun,” Kirkham said. “It will include taste-test training and other activities, recipes, team-building ideas, and plenty of opportunity for networking.”
Kirkham encourages anyone interested in the Montana Harvest of the Month program or farm-to-school and farm-to-cafeteria programs to attend the showcase event Friday, Dec. 2, at Gardiner Schools, located at 510 Stone Street. It will begin at 10 a.m. and end at 3:30 p.m.
The cost for the Montana Harvest of the Month Showcase is $15 for an individual and $50 for groups of four or five. Some scholarships are available. Registration includes lunch and snacks made with local foods.
To register, go to the Montana Harvest of the Month website at MTHARVESTOFTHEMONTH.ORG.