“These taste a lot better than those small carrots,” the Ferguson Elementary School first-grader explained as he held up his fresh-from-the-farm carrot with the leafy top still attached.
Those small carrots he referred to are the processed baby carrots often purchased in bags at grocery stories. The carrots more than 3,200 Klamath County School District students ate with their lunches Thursday (Oct. 27) were grown by Klamath Falls farmer Kent Simons of Simple Gifts Farm on Crest Street. Simons provided the carrots to 11 KCSD schools as part of the district’s Farm to School program.
At Ferguson, vice principal Jana Dunlea told carrot jokes before asking students to hold up their carrots and counting down from 10. Together, the cafeteria full of students crunched into their carrots, celebrating the district’s fifth annual Countdown to Crunch event. The Crunch, started five years ago by OSU Extension educator Patty Case, is way for students to try local, fresh foods and teach them about where their food comes from.
A second-grader at Shasta Elementary told Case during the event: “I never tasted a carrot that came out of the ground before.” Those experiences, she said, are valuable to youth.
This is the second year Simons has provided carrots to the district’s cafeterias. At Merrill and Malin, students also were offered roasted carrots, and cooks in Malin also made carrot muffins for students.
“The Countdown to Crunch is such a fun event because it engages on so many levels: Administrators, teachers, kitchen staff, community partners, and students,” said Jordan Rainwater, Farm to School coordinator for the Klamath County School District. “It is always fun to see the unique and creative ways each school celebrates.”
Eleven schools participated this year — Merrill, Malin, Henley Elementary, Ferguson, Shasta, Gearhart, Gilchrist, Bonanza Elementary, Stearns (grades 2, 3, and 6), Chiloquin Elementary, and Brixner Junior High School.