- For Food Service Providers
- For Teachers and School Administrators
- For Early Care and Education (ECE) Providers
- For Families and Caregivers
For FOOD SERVICE PROVIDERS:
Winter squash (such as butternut, acorn, and pumpkin) is different from summer squash (like zucchini). Winter squash is harvested and eaten in the mature fruit stage, when the seeds within have matured fully and the skin has hardened into a tough rind. Most varieties can be stored for use through the winter.
Blurb for your school newsletter or menu:
In the cafeteria this month we’re featuring BUTTERNUT SQUASH as our Harvest of the Month! Our school cafeteria is serving fruits and vegetables from local farms throughout this school year. Locally grown BUTTERNUT SQUASH will be featured in ___(dish)___ on __(date)______. To learn more about Massachusetts Farm to School’s Harvest of the Month program, visit http://www.massfarmtoschool.org/programs/harvest-of-the-month/.
Recipes for K-12 school lunches:
Butternut squash is colorful, versatile, tasty, and nutritious too. Try out a few of these recipes for your school meal menus.
- Root Vegetable Gratin (New School Cuisine, VT)
- Winter Vegetable Soup with Turkey (California Public Schools)
- Butternut Squash & Chicken Curry (Seattle Public Schools)
- Black Bean and Squash Burgers (Green Mountain Farm to School)
- Calabaza Asada (Roasted Winter Squash) (Washington Farm to School Program)
- Butternut and Sweet Potato Bake (Mass. Farm to School Project)
- Harvest Home “Fries” (Mass. Farm to School Project)
- Vegetarian Chili (from Project Bread)
- Three Sisters Soup (Vermont FEED)
- Autumn Whole Grain Pilaf (Whole Grains Council)
- Butternut Cranberry Bread (Mass. Farm to School Project)
- Squash Bar (University of Minnesota Extension)
Recipes for college dining services:
- Roasted Butternut Squash Soup (thanks to Harvard University Dining Services)
- Saffron Farro Butternut Risotto (from the Whole Grains Council)
Butternut is a Winter Squash:
Get students excited about winter squashes like butternut! Post these facts on your bulletin board or include them on your lunch menu (you can also find them on the back of our Butternut Squash Harvest of the Month Trading Cards).
- History: Squash, maize (corn), and beans were staples of the Native American tribes in Massachusetts. The Iroquois called these three plants “Three Sisters” because they help each other grow.
- Production: Pumpkins, like butternut squash, are an edible member of the squash family and there are more than 80 pick-your-own pumpkin farms in Massachusetts.
- Fun Fact: Waltham butternut is one of the most popular varieties of winter squash, developed nearby in Waltham, Massachusetts.
- Nutrition: Winter squash has loads of vitamin A which helps keep your eyes healthy and improve night vision. It is also rich in B-complex group of vitamins (including folates, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-6)
- Nutrition: Other edible parts of squash plants include seeds, shoots, leaves, and blossoms.
For TEACHERS AND SCHOOL ADMINISTRATORS
Here are some ideas for how to integrate squash-themed activities into classrooms and school gardens.
Text for morning announcements
“Good morning students, this is _____, with February’s Harvest of the Month soundbite. This month we are starting the new year off by celebrating LOCALLY GROWN BUTTERNUT SQUASH in the cafeteria. Did you know that squash originated in the Americas, and was brought back to Europe by Christopher Columbus? Look for BUTTERNUT and other winter squash grown at local farms (name the farm(s) you’re purchasing from, if you can) in school lunches this month.”
- Teach ME About Food and Farms has a great squash handout which includes activities, recipes, and nutrition lesson plans located here.
- Here is an activity packet including suggestions for activities and books to read for grades K – 2 from Growing Minds, a program of ASAP (Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project) in North Carolina.
- Have students identify and research the nutritional benefits of eating butternut squash. What role do the nutrients found in squash play in human health?
- Farm to Preschool has an activity and recipe packet on pumpkins and winter squash.
- Vermont Harvest of the Month has a whole harvest lessons guide, with lessons for different K-12 grades. Download the Harvest Lessons and visit their site for literature ideas, recipes and more.
- Oregon Harvest for Schools has some great ideas for incorporating local squash into your lessons, including ideas for a poetry contest, math problems, and analyzing food advertising.
School garden activities
Invite older students to research a “three sisters” garden plot (squash, corn, beans) and report back to the class. Is there a place where students can plant their own Three Sisters Garden at your school?
For EARLY CARE AND EDUCATION (ECE) CENTERS
- Squash Unit (Island Grown)
Children will learn what squash are, how pumpkins are related to squash, and what kinds of food can be made with it. There are lessons for a squash dissection, seed mosaic, and pumpkin smoothie making included.
For FAMILIES AND CAREGIVERS
Share this information and try a butternut squash recipe at home!
- See our family newsletter for more information about using, buying and storing butternut squash.
- A recipe for Central Valley Harvest Bake (Kidshealth.org)
- They eat winter squash in California too! Network for a Healthy California shares this wonderful Harvest of the Month info packet with loads of interesting information.
- Being a winter-squash family member, local butternuts are readily available in the markets all winter. Nutrition-and-you.com offers these buying tips for butternut squash:
- Look for mature product that features fine woody note on tapping, and heavy in hand. Its stem should be stout and firmly attached to the fruit.
- Avoid those with wrinkled surface, spots, cuts, and bruises.
- Once at home, well-ripen squash can be stored for many weeks in cool, humid-free, well-ventilated place at room temperature. However, cut sections should be placed inside the refrigerator where they keep well for few days.
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.