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Cultivating Connections: A Farm to School Photography Journey in Michigan

Michigan is leading the way in bringing fresh, locally-grown produce to students' plates through an innovative farm to school initiative called 10 Cents A Meal For Michigan's Kids & Farms. This state-funded program provides matching grants to schools, early childhood education centers, and other sponsors to purchase fruits, vegetables, and legumes directly from Michigan farmers.

Close-up of a person's hand arranging two school lunch trays on a round table. Each tray contains a carton of Prairie Farms 1% low-fat milk, fruit, vegetables, a sandwich, and a small serving of dip. Sunlight filters through a nearby window, casting warm shadows on the table. The image captures a healthy, nutritious meal setup as part of the Michigan Department of Education's 10 Cents a Meal Program, promoting local produce in school meals
A classroom or learning environment with a wooden desk or table in the foreground. On the desk, there is a carton of 1% low-fat milk, an apple, and other produce, suggesting a focus on healthy eating and nutrition. In the background, a large chalkboard or blackboard is covered in colorful drawings and doodles, creating a creative and engaging space for students

The goal is to get more locally-grown fruits and veggies onto cafeteria trays from preschool...

An image showing a person's hands preparing a meal on a tray. The tray contains a sandwich made with a bun and various vegetables, as well as a side of asparagus. The background shows a refrigerator or food storage unit with various compartments containing different fresh produce items such as tomatoes, peppers, pineapple, and other fruits and vegetables
Metal lockers against a brick wall in a high school. The lockers have numbered doors and handles, and the floor is tiled

all the way through high school...

Cutting strawberries into fun heart shapes makes them irresistible for little ones...

A young child smiles while holding a red bell pepper, surrounded by a simple meal of milk, bread, and a small flower vase on the table

This early positive experience ensures strawberries remain a natural choice when they appear in the high school cafeteria years later.

Young boy in a preschool classroom holding up a green apple for the teacher
A young boy in a preschool classroom hold us a sliced apple before eating it

While preschoolers use their five senses to observe apples in the classroom...

A person wearing blue and orange sneakers and blue jeans holds a red apple while sitting at a table. A green notebook and a smartphone are on the table, indicating a casual study or work session

high schoolers simply appreciate this portable, healthy snack they've grown up enjoying.

A young child in a colorful dress reaches for a carton of Prairie Farms 1% low-fat milk on a table filled with various food items, including fruit and a sandwich. Other children are also seated at the table, enjoying their meals

Those tiny preschool fingers that once practiced independence by opening milk cartons?

A person in a gray shirt reaches for a carton of Prairie Farms 1% low-fat milk labeled "Local Fresh" in a kitchen or refrigerator setting. The milk carton is prominently displayed in the foreground, with a blurred background

now grab-n-go.

A student in a school cafeteria holds a bright pink smartphone while a carton of Prairie Farms 1% low-fat milk sits on the table. Two other students are seated in the background, one with blonde hair and the other with dark hair, suggesting a casual dining and socializing environment

(and scroll).

A person in a blue shirt sits at a table, holding a smartphone and looking at it. In front of them is a tray with a bowl of cereal or oatmeal, a carton of Prairie Farms 1% low-fat chocolate milk, and a bowl of fruit. The background includes another person seated at the table, indicating a casual meal setting in a school or work environment

Speaking of scrolling, students may browse updates from friends and influencers. But the real influencers?

A collage of food-related scenes: Top left shows a cutting board with sliced oranges, strawberries, and green bell peppers. Top right shows a child holding a package of Peterson Farms Apple Slices. Bottom left shows hands preparing food in a cafeteria setting. Bottom right shows a child holding a package of Ding Dong snacks

The cafeteria staff who lovingly plan, prepare and serve beautiful, nutritious meals...

A farm scene with a green tractor being operated in a vegetable garden. Two people are bent over, working on the rows of plants behind the tractor. The garden is filled with green leafy vegetables, and the background is lush with trees and vegetation

and the hard-working farmers who tilled the soil, nurtured the seedlings and harvested the food.

From preschool to high school, students learn that the color green is not to be feared, but rather celebrated.

The Full Harvest

Each bite tells a story of interconnected communities. It celebrates the hard-working farmers who nurture the crops from soil to harvest. It honors the cafeteria staff crafting those fresh, local ingredients into nutritious, delicious meals. It recognizes the educators guiding students to develop healthy eating habits for life. And ultimately, it nourishes the minds and bodies of the next generation.

One bite at a time, we're investing in a sustainable future for Michigan's children, agriculture, and communities through programs like 10 Cents A Meal For Michigan's Kids & Farms.

Follow My Farm to School Photography Journey

Follow along as I travel throughout Michigan, photographing the people, places and produce behind 10 Cents a Meal. I post new sessions and links on my business Facebook page. To stay up to date, follow me on Facebook.

Ready to tell your story? Let's chat.


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