For FOOD SERVICE PROVIDERS:
Let your students know that potatoes taste great and are grown here in Massachusetts!
Blurb for your school newsletter or menu:
This month for Harvest of the Month we’re featuring POTATOES! With help from the Massachusetts Farm to School Project, our school cafeteria will include produce from local farms throughout this school year. April’s Harvest of the Month crop is POTATOES, which will be featured in ___(dish)___ on __(date)______. To learn more about Harvest of the Month, visit http://www.massfarmtoschool.org/programs/harvest-of-the-month/.
Recipes for K-12 school lunches:
Potatoes are versatile, delicious, and easy to prepare. They are also loaded with energy and nutrients! Try a few of these recipes from some of our favorite school food cookbooks with your students!
- Sweet Potato Enchiladas (Humane Society)
- Corn, Potato, Cauliflower Soup (New School Cuisine, VT)
- Beef Shepherd’s Pie (Wisconsin Dept. of Public Instruction)
- Sweet Potato Muffin (USDA)
- Curried Potatoes in Tortillas (Center for Ecoliteracy)
- Sweet Potato and Black Bean Salad (New School Cuisine, VT)
- Sweet Potato Fries (Kidchen Expedition)
- Potato Cheddar Soup (Project Bread)
- Roasted Potato Wedges (Project Bread)
- Potato Salad with Lemon and Garlic (Mass. Farm to School Cookbook)
- Potatoes with Broccoli (The Lunch Box)
- Baked Potato Bar (Mass. Farm to School Cookbook)
- Tasty Tots (USDA)
What do you know about Potatoes?
There’s more to potatoes than fries and chips! Post these facts on your bulletin board or include them on your lunch menu (you can also find them on the back of the Potatoes Harvest of the Month Trading Cards).
- History: The potato was first domesticated by the Incas in Peru between 8,000 and 5,000 BCE. It has since spread around the world and become the fourth largest food crop in the world.
- Production: Potatoes are the leading vegetable crop in the US with a total production of 41.3 billion pounds. Each year, more than 1 million acres of potatoes are planted—that’s like filling 1/5th of the state of Massachusetts with potato plants.
- Fun Fact: In October 1995, the potato became the first vegetable to be grown in space. NASA and the University of Wisconsin created the technology with the goal of feeding astronauts on long space voyages.
- Nutrition: Potatoes are among the top sources of potassium. In fact, potatoes have more potassium per serving than any other vegetable or fruit, including bananas, oranges, or mushrooms.
For TEACHERS AND SCHOOL ADMINISTRATORS
Here are some ideas for how to integrate potato-themed activities into classrooms and school gardens.
Text for morning announcements
“Good morning, this is _____, with a Harvest of the Month soundbite. This month we are featuring fresh, healthy, LOCALLY GROWN POTATOES in the cafeteria. The potatoes we are eating were grown at local farms and harvested this fall. Potatoes are not only delicious, they’re packed with energy and nutrients. Look for POTATOES grown at Massachusetts farms (name the farm(s) you’re purchasing from, if you can) in school lunches this month. Can you taste the difference?”
Classroom and school garden activities
Elementary School Activities:
Plant a potato in water and watch the roots grow! Insert 3 or 4 toothpicks around the middle of a potato horizontally. Balance the toothpicks on the rim of a glass jar. Add water to the jar so that it covers the bottom of the potato. Check the water level often and refill as necessary so the water covers the bottom of the potato. After about 2 weeks the potato will sprout new spuds.
Use potatoes to make stamps! Cut a large potato in half. Using a knife, carve an impression into the cut side, leaving a shaped potato stamp. Supply the children with the potato stamps, different colored paints, and paper. Have the children dip the potatoes in the paint and press them firmly onto the paper.
- Potato Shoot Experiment
- Let’s Cook Potatoes!
- Potato triva sheet, for younger children.
- Sheet on optimal growing conditions for potatoes, for older children.
High School Activities:
Use the potato for history exploration.
Research the history, uses, and folklore associated with the potato in Ireland and Russia.
Compare and contrast the Irish potato history with the Russian potato history. Discuss the significance and influence of the potato crop in these countries (e.g., culture, nutrition, economics, migration).
Have students research the history of other crops that are or have been the primary food source of a nation’s majority population.
For FAMILIES AND CAREGIVERS
Share this information and try a potato recipe at home!
- Click here to download our family newsletter with fun facts and serving ideas for potatoes.
- Nutrition and other consumer information on potatoes is available here.
- Shopping and storage tips:
- Look for clean, smooth, firm-textured potatoes with no cuts, bruises or discoloration.
- Store potatoes in a cool, well ventilated place.
- Keep potatoes out of the light.
- Don’t wash potatoes before storing. Dampness promotes early spoilage.
- Perforated plastic bags and paper bags offer the best environment for extending shelf-life
- Scrub and leave the skin on and eat it — that’s where most of the nutrients are!
- Steaming preserves more of the potato’s nutrition than boiling.
Thank you to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts and the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources for helping to make Harvest of the Month possible.