Your MUS Wellness Team has been on the road for the past month, but we’re breaking radio silence today to catch you up on what we’ve been up to and bring you a special announcement about a unique (and delicious!) upcoming event.

Neal and I have visited 7 MUS campuses since mid-September, and have had the opportunity to see many of you at WellChecks, workshops, and Wellness Champion meetings. We’ve gotten to hear your Wellness success stories, your questions, comments, and suggestions related to our programs. Getting out and visiting with our MUS plan members is really what keeps us going. So thank you to all of you who’ve taken time out of your busy day to speak with us or attend a workshop! We’re looking forward to upcoming WellChecks in Missoula and Bozeman, a follow-up webinar to Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Exercise but were Afraid to Ask on October 28th at 12:05pm (click here to register now), more educational workshops on several campuses and planning for 2016. Whew!

I also wanted to tell you about a cool event happening on Monday, October 26th. Mark your calendars for 2:00pm MST because it’s Montana Crunch Time! Montana Crunch Time is a statewide event marked by crunching into a locally grown apple to celebrate Food Day (October 24th) and National Farm to School Month. Take a quick break for a healthy afternoon snack of a Montana-grown apple, invite your coworkers, then share your “crunch byte” by tagging a photo or video with the hashtag #MontanaCrunchTime on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or other social media sites. Help spread the word about the benefits of local food & healthy communities!

To tell you more about this event, I spoke with Aubree Roth, Farm to School Coordinator with Montana Team Nutrition and organizer of Montana Crunch Time. Montana Team Nutrition provides training and technical assistance for Child Nutrition Programs (i.e. the National School Lunch Program).

When and how did Montana Crunch Time start?

AR: The idea for Montana Crunch Time was born when Missoula Public Schools were looking for a way to create a fruit & veggie “flashmob”. Crunching on locally produced apples at a designated time was a way to create a state-wide event with that “flash mob” feeling. The first Montana Crunch Time was held in 2013.

How many people typically participate in Montana Crunch Time?

AR: In its first year in 2013, an estimated 11,000 adults and students participated. In 2014, over 20,000 participated. This year, we’re are aiming for 30,000!

Where can I find locally grown apples?

AR: “Regionally-grown” apples may be the more appropriate term in some cases, because not all locations in Montana have access to Montana -grown apples. However, local grocers and farmer’s markets are a good places to check. You can also ask your local Extension office for information regarding nearby orchards. And don’t forget about a neighborhood apple tree or one in your own backyard!

Why is Farm to School Month important?

AR: Farm to School month is the perfect time to celebrate and launch farm to school programs.

According to http://www.farmtoschool.org, “Farm to school enriches the connection communities have with fresh, healthy food and local food producers by changing food purchasing and education practices at schools and preschools.” That means local food incorporated into school meals and snacks, creation of school gardens, and educational opportunities for students such as farm field trips or cooking lessons to teach future generations about where food comes from.

Do many Farm to School programs currently exist in the state?

AR: In a 2011-2012 USDA Census, 38% of Montana schools had farm to school programs. Since that time, the number of programs have grown significantly. Montana is doing really well and is on par, if not ahead, of other states in the percentage of schools who have farm to school programs.

Aubree reports that many schools are holding special events and assemblies in honor of Montana Crunch Time. So if you have kids, ask them if they are celebrating the event, and join them if you can! Last year, a senior living facility participated, and organizers hope that more workplaces and organizations will begin to participate as well. So, let’s lead the way, MUS! If you plan on participating, sign up to crunch here (registering for the event is really helpful as it allows organizers to estimate the number of participants). 

And, you can follow me on Twitter @montanameals to see my “crunch byte” next Monday!

CS

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