The Dubuque Community School District will join school districts across the Midwest in celebrating the third-annual Midwest Menu event on Thursday, Oct. 6. Over 7,000 students in Dubuque and over 500,000 throughout the region will join in the event, which celebrates healthy, regional, and sustainable school meals.

In Dubuque, Thursday’s lunch selection will feature Iowa-grown sweet corn and baked apples. The corn, sourced by Iowa farmers in Ankeny and Van Horne is picked and frozen on the same day by Iowa Choice Harvest to seal in the fresh flavor. Other regionally-sourced items like local creamy coleslaw, milk and homemade whole-grain rolls will also be included on the menu.

“Farm to School Month provides a great opportunity for our department to promote and celebrate fresh fruits and vegetables that are locally and regionally grown in the Dubuque area,” said Joann Franck, the district’s manager of food and nutrition services.

Local experts say that locally sourced produce also helps regional agriculture overall. “In Iowa, we are ranked 38th and 42nd in fruit and vegetable production, respectively,” said Carolyn Scherf, local food coordinator with Dubuque County ISU Extension & Outreach. “When school districts buy fruits and vegetables from local farmers, they’re creating a market – and with that market – farmers are better able to rebuild their capacity to produce a diversity of healthy, fresh foods.”

The Midwest Menu is organized by five large districts participating in the Focus Midwest Learning Lab: Chicago Public Schools, Des Moines Public Schools, Omaha Public Schools, Minneapolis Public Schools, and the Detroit Public Schools Community District.