HOTM Profile: Georgetown Public Schools

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School District Georgetown Public Schools
Location Georgetown, MA
Student Population 1350
Cafeterias 2
Meals Served Per Day 650


The Food Service Director at Georgetown Public Schools, Heather Torrey, is an enthusiastic proponent of Massachusetts Farm to School’s Harvest of the Month program. We spoke with her recently and she was able to share some of her experiences with the program.

Procurement

Located in the Northeastern region of Massachusetts, the Georgetown Public Schools has a number of farms nearby. Many of these farms are primarily retail oriented, operating farm stands, CSAs, and pick-your- own operations. However, Torrey has been able to source directly from two farms that also wholesale product, Brooksby Farm in Peabody and Alprilla Farm in Essex. Specifically she aims to source as much in season as possible from Brooksby Farm, as they are located closest to the district and have wonderful summer squash, apples, and zucchini.

Promotion

At Georgetown they decorate the cafeteria with the Harvest of the Month posters, promote the crop via social media sites,  and had a high school student intern design bulletin boards to highlight the Harvest of the Month crop by displaying facts about the crop as well as activities related to that particular month’s crop. HOTMProfile-Georgetown-01

Having the students participate in creating the bulletin boards not only alleviated some of Torrey’s Harvest of the Month workload, but also allowed for the opportunity for students to be individually invested in the Harvest of the Month program beyond simply enjoying the crop during lunch time. They were able to engage with the crop, where it came from, and gain a better understanding of the food they are served for lunch. Additionally, Torrey has had a lot of fun using the “I tried it” stickers with students at the elementary school level – students who took a sample of the Harvest of the Month item on the cafeteria line got stickers to show off their culinary curiosity.

Advice & Challenges

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Torrey strongly recommends planning ahead if you want to participate in the Harvest of the Month program. If you are new to the program and want to sign up for next year it would be a good idea to reach out to farmers now and discuss delivery options as well as payment concerns. It’s extremely helpful to have these details worked out with individual farmers prior to placing orders so everything can run as smoothly as possible. Sometimes sourcing challenges do arise, for example strawberries were difficult to find in June of last year, so Georgetown was unable to source local strawberries that month. One can certainly source other ingredients locally if the Harvest of the Month crop is unavailable. The important thing is to keep local sourcing a priority. At times it has been difficult to get farmers to respond to queries, but  She very much recommends using resources from the Mass. Farm to School Harvest of the Month website, as well connecting directly with Mass. Farm to School staff who have been helpful when procurement questions arise.