Origins understands that quality nutrition is an essential building block in a young child’s development, both physically and mentally. Food and nutrition have an essential role in children’s achievement at all stages of education.
It is part of the role of early childhood education services and schools to provide an environment where students are most equipped to learn, along with providing delicious and nourishing food. Early childhood education settings provide numerous and diverse opportunities for kids to begin making decisions about food, which is why it is important that these environments are structured to promote and support healthy eating. Origins Education will not only feed your children well, but we will educate preschoolers about the importance of making healthy food choices.
Origins serves organic foods and believes in the farm to table ideal. We participate in community gardens, utilize the farmers markets in season, as well as cultivating our own garden and we do the majority of our shopping at locally owned grocery stores, making a point to purchase as much local meats and produce as possible. We serve eggs that come from cage-free chickens, meats that are grass-fed, free-range, hormone and antibiotic free and non-gmo produce grown without chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
We will work with families dealing with allergies as well as alternative diets including those who choose gluten and dairy free lifestyles. Origins Education was a pilot site for the farm to table program Harvest of the Month in 2017/2018 and is a continuing member currently. The Montana Harvest of the Month program showcases Montana grown foods in Montana schools and communities. This program is a collaboration between the Office of Public Instruction, Montana Team Nutrition Program, the National Center for Appropriate Technology, Montana State University Extension, Gallatin Valley Farm to School, and FoodCorps Montana. Funds were provided in part by a USDA Team Nutrition Training grant, a USDA Farm to School grant, Montana Healthcare Foundation, Northern Pulse Growers Association, Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, and Montana School Nutrition Association.
Project evaluation is led by Dr. Carmen Byker Shanks of the Food and Health Lab at Montana State University.
Each month, participating sites focus on promoting one locally grown item (e.g., winter squash) by serving it in at least one meal, snack, or a la carte offering, and displaying or distributing HOM materials. Additionally, schools and early care and education settings participate by offering taste tests to students and doing educational lessons and activities. Montana Harvest of the Month is a perfect way to launch or grow a farm to school or farm to cafeteria program as it provides an easy framework to follow and ready-to-use materials. Participating sites will receive a free packet of materials (includes posters and cafeteria, educator, and home handouts) as well as guides, additional resources, and training. The two primary goals for this program are to expose children and adults to new, healthy foods and to support Montana’s farmers and ranchers.