Dear Aggie: It’s back to school we go! My family enjoys supporting local producers and the great food they grow, but I am not sure if I should send a school lunch made using many local foods or let my kids buy from the school menu. What do you suggest?

Thank you for supporting local farmers by buying and using their fresh, nutritious products. Fortunately, many of our school districts in the north country are dedicated to using local products on their menu. Call your local school and ask about the menu. Let them know you feel serving local is important. You may be surprised at how much food is sourced locally and already being served. Review the menu with your children to choose which days they may want to eat school lunches and which days you may want to send in a lunch.

If you receive free or reduced meals, take advantage of this opportunity. Always complete the paperwork the school sends you, even if you don’t think you qualify. Show your student how to look for a milk container stamp that includes the number 36. “36” means it was processed in New York state and the letter “L” means it was made by the Crowley plant in LaFargeville.

Schools work hard to serve healthy, nutritious meals. The best way to help schools serve healthy foods that won’t be wasted is to serve nutritious meals at home. Introduce your children to a wide variety of foods, encourage healthy food choices by serving healthy options and limit processed food choices in the home. Children are responsible for choosing how much of a food to eat, but parents are responsible for what options are placed before their children.

Question answered by Cathy Moore, agriculture issue leader at Cornell Cooperative Extension Jefferson County. Contact Cathy at cmm17@cornell.edu.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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