Hi! My name is Alyssa Benoit and I am interning with Sustainable Food Systems Educator Jiff Martin through UConn CAHNR Extension. I am a rising senior at UConn majoring in Allied Health Sciences, and in the Fast-Track program for a Master’s in Public Administration (MPA) through the Department of Public Policy. I help with communications on the initiatives Heart CT Grown, Put Local on Your Tray, Taste of Mansfield, and a project for Northeastern CT direct-to-consumer farm sales. In my free time, I enjoy trail running, rock climbing, and gardening!
Molly Basak-Smith of our UConn Extension Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) walks through how to make a strawberry kale smoothie as part of our Slurpie challenge with the Put Local On Your Tray program. Make your own smoothie at home and join us in the Great Smoothie Slurp!
With Put Local on Your Tray and New England Dairy!
Spring is the perfect time to SOURCE, SERVE, and CELEBRATE local.
Popular spring harvests includes our dark leafy greens like Kale, our colorful fruits like Strawberries and, of course, we can’t forget our local Dairy products, which are in season all year round.
Join the Great Smoothie Slurp by using local dairy, and seasonal strawberries, and greens to make a slurp-sational smoothie.
We would love to hear and see your loudest SLURP!
Take a short clip of you and your family SLURPING your smoothies, and post on social media and tag:
@/# YOUR School
You can even receive free materials to share this delicious smoothie recipe with your community!
For more information on how to source your ingredients locally and how to receive free materials please visit:
Responding to COVID-19 requires generosity and ingenuity.
We recognize, more than ever, it is clear the roles schools play and the necessity of school meal programs to connect and serve healthy and local food with our communities.
Put local on Your Tray is teaming up with Northeast farm-to-school folks to collect stories and photos of how #CommunitiesFeedKids in this pandemic.
Our goal is to spread gratitude and inspiration for the hard work school nutrition professionals are doing to feed kids during the Covid-19 crisis, lifting up school meals and how critically important they are so we build toward a changed, more resilient system in the future.
We invite you to share the story of your community feeding kids in response to COVID-19! #CommunitiesFeedKids
To learn more please visit:
We’re rooting for winter with root recipes from our Put Local On Your Tray program. Visit https://putlocalonyourtray.uconn.edu/root-recipes/ to find some warm, filling and nutritious ideas for how to cook carrots, parsnips, beets, radish, or another root vegetable.
Fall is the quintessential time to visit a farm with apple and pear picking, corn mazes, pumpkin patches, cider donuts and so much more!
We will be celebrating local agriculture the whole month – CT Grown for CT Kids Week is October 7-11th with National School Lunch Week October 14-18th. Check out the National Farm to School month toolkit for wonderful ideas to celebrate the whole month!
Learn more, find recipes, and see participating schools at the website for Put Local On Your Tray.
October meant apple challenges for school districts participating in the Put Local On Your Tray Project. You can find recipes for apples on the website. They also share the following about apples:
In the Past: Apple trees belong to the rose family, and originated in Central Asia in the mountains of southern Kazakhastan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and China. It is perhaps the earliest tree to be cultivated for food.
In the Soil: There are 7,500 recognized varieties of apple today around the world. Apples grow only in temperate climates because they need a cold period in which to go dormant. Some trees can withstand temperatures down to -40 F.
In the Kitchen: Each apple variety ripens at a different time of season, and has a unique combination of firmness, crispness, acidity, juiciness, and sweetness. These factors make some varieties more suited to eating fresh, and others to storing or cooking.
In the Body: Apples are a wonderful source of potassium and vitamin C. They also contain pectin, which supports healthy cholesterol, blood sugar, and cellulose levels. The apple skin is where most of these beneficial nutrients are concentrated.
In Connecticut: Out of the 7,500 varieties of apple worldwide, 60 are grown right here in Connecticut. Our apples are generally available from mid July through the end of December.
Check out www.ctapples.org for more recipes and a list of orchards in Connecticut.
VERNON, CT, (June 13, 2018) – UConn Extension and the Connecticut State Department of Education is currently inviting school food service professionals across the state to sign up for the Put Local on Your Tray Program in the upcoming 2018-19 school year. Schools and districts that sign up will get help increasing fresh, locally grown products in their cafeterias. Sign ups will be open until the new school year starts in September.
According to USDA’s 2014 Farm to School Census, over 70% of schools in CT are offering farm to school programming, which might include hands-on activities in school gardens, cooking classes after school, and/or serving local food in the cafeteria. CSDE and UConn Extension are now partnering to increase school commitments to more purchases from local farms. Districts who sign up for the Tray Program will pledge to feature local ingredients at least twice per season(s) of their choice. Schools choose the Farm to School promotional activities that fit their needs. For example, activities might include: hosting a special taste test in the cafeteria (e.g. kale chips), marketing the products they regularly get from local growers (such as milk), using a holiday or celebration day on the calendar to feature local produce (e.g. new varieties of apples promoted during CT Grown for CT Kids Week), or integrating a recipe into their regular menu that relies on local ingredients for several months (e.g. winter root slaw).
Last year, there were a total of thirty four districts who took the pledge. The program is in its second year and continues to learn, grow, and adapt as Farm to School grows. We hope to see an increase this year, with a goal of fifty school districts. Yolanda Burt, Senior Director of Child Nutrition for Hartford Public Schools and contributor for the Program’s suite of tools, thinks districts need to define ‘local’ for themselves. She states, “Our definition of local includes what is grown and processed within 250 miles of Hartford, and/or purchasing food from small businesses to support Hartford businesses and further job creation for Hartford residents.” Districts who sign up and take the pledge are encouraged to define the criteria for local products based on what is possible and meaningful to their community.
Food Service Director for Avon, Canton, and Regional School District #10, Maggie Dreher, says, “I believe we should provide our students with the freshest, tastiest ingredients possible. An apple is not just an apple, but a story – a potential place to connect to the community.” The Program welcomes those who are not a part of school food service to tell that story with Put Local on Your Tray communication materials, when educating children about local food. There is a materials request sheet available online, for interested school community members (teachers, parents, volunteers, etc.) to ask for any hard copies of our posters, bookmarks, stickers, etc. at http://putlocalonyourtray.uconn.edu.
Contact your school administrator or food service director to encourage them to sign up and be recognized and promoted as a Tray district! Many schools already supply local products, without necessarily promoting it as such (in items like milk, or certain produce from their distributors). Put them in touch with Put Local on Your Tray for credit to be paid where it’s due!
For more information please visit http://putlocalonyourtray.uconn.edu or call 203-824-7175. Put Local On Your Tray is a project of UConn Extension, in partnership with the CT State Department of Education, FoodCorps Connecticut, and New England Dairy & Food Council (NEDFC).
In Meriden schools, they served Red, White, & Blue Smoothies in honor of the winter Olympics and local dairy in February. What a cool idea! And one that you can replicate at home in honor of Memorial Day. It’s a fun and delicious smoothie. The layers were strawberry, banana, and blueberry served at breakfast with graham crackers.
Put Local on Your Tray is a farm-to-school program helping Connecticut schools serve and celebrate regionally grown food.