Harvest of the Month (HOTM) isn’t a prescribed model; one size fits all type of program. It’s a basic framework of information organized in an easy to adapt format. It’s an educational tool used to teach students about nutrition, healthy lifestyle habits and the food system through exposure to locally grown and sourced fruits and vegetables. The HOTM initiative from the California Department of Public Health features 36 California grown fruits and vegetables on their website. Through the produce newsletters, Educators Corner and Training Corner, your HOTM program has all the support it needs to get off the ground.
During the webinar we heard from three different speakers across the state describe how they have taken the HOTM to a new level in their counties.
Terri Spezzano, County Director and Nutrition, Family, and Consumer Science Advisor with UCCE Stanislaus, describes how she has been working with the Stanislaus Food and Nutrition Network, made up of key stakeholders in the county, to unify a nutrition message across multiple food establishments. The group decided to use the HOTM materials as their unifying message to prevent from recreating the wheel. The goal is to expose Stanislaus residents to HOTM messaging at the grocery store, in their favorite restaurant, in the school cafeteria, at farmers’ markets and more. Currently, there is some kind of HOTM messaging in every city in the county!
Here is Terri’s presentation: HOM BOS
Dana Kent, RD and SNAP-Ed Project Director with Lake County Local Health Department, shared how the SNAP-Ed grant has allowed them to purchase produce from local farmers and deliver produce and education materials to classrooms around the county. Next year, the educational lessons will be fully teacher-led after receiving training from SNAP-Ed staff. Simultaneously, they will also be working with the Lake County Food Hub to help source the local produce and deliver it to the classrooms allowing them to expand their reach.
Here is Dana’s presentation: SNAP-Ed Lake County HOTM Program
The last presenter, Angie Corwin, Farm to School Coordinator with Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF) in Sonoma County, explained how generating revenue through HOTM tasting kits has helped sustain the program’s existence across the Central and North Coast regions. Covering six counties in California, CAFF delivers tasting kits made up of locally purchased produce, education materials, and a farmer profile for an affordable fee. The model is easily replicable as found in the toolkit titled “Sourcing Fresh and Local.”
Here is Angie’s presentation: HOTM Presentation – Innovative Model Webinar
One thing is clear, HOTM materials are easy to use and effective. No matter how you choose to incorporate the information into your program, you will be one step closer to reaching your farm to school goals.
How are you using HOTM? The California Farm to School Network would love to highlight how you are using HOTM in your classroom, school district, public health agency, stakeholder group, and/or county. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to share your innovative model and see your resources posted on the website.
Thank you to all who were able to join in on the HOTM: Innovative Models webinar. If you weren’t able to join in, you can find the recorded webinar HERE.