Michigan’s 10th annual Apple Crunch was a success for consumers and producers alike!
On Thursday, October 10, 2019, over 300,000 Michigan students, organizational and institutional staff, policy makers and residents crunched into a local Michigan apple as part of the annual Michigan Apple Crunch. For the first time, Michigan teamed up with five other Great Lakes States to participate in the region-wide 2019 Great Lakes Great Apple Crunch.
Over 1.8 million participants registered for the annual regional event. Compared with other participating Great Lakes States, Michigan ranked third in total registrants, contributing 324,147 crunches! Michigan had the highest number of adults who crunched - 47,220. We also had the third highest number of K-12 students - 275,119. More children from early care and education sites participated in Michigan than in any other Great Lake state.
The Michigan Apple Crunch has become a key event in the National Farm to School Month celebration that takes place every October. While K-12 schools have been the main participants over the years, engagement from diverse institution types has increased, including senior centers, colleges and universities, and hospitals, as well as local businesses and government offices. The event, which highlights an important local agricultural product, is a great way to expand the audience for supporting Michigan agriculture.
A post-event survey found that all respondents experienced benefits from participating in the event, including:
- practice finding and purchasing a local item,
- increasing support for farm to school and local food purchasing programs,
- awareness and enthusiasm for local purchasing programs, and
- education about local and healthy foods and nutrition.
Apples are a “low-hanging fruit” for many institutions looking to purchase local foods; the Apple Crunch has often served as a way for institutions to begin developing relationships with local apple suppliers and farmers that continue beyond the one-day event. Participants also reported that their experience with the event left them motivated to try purchasing more local products and with a better understanding of the importance of purchasing local.
If your institution is looking to start, or continue, purchasing local apples, the Cultivate Michigan Sourcing Guide provides a list of distributors, food hubs and organizations that can help you source and serve apples and over 20 other Michigan agricultural products.
Michigan State University Extension along with the Michigan Farm to Institution Network and several state and regional partners coordinated the crunch together. The Great Lakes Great Apple Crunch regional effort, coordinated by the University of Wisconsin, includes a custom crunch registration page as well as Michigan-specific Crunch Guides, with resources for sourcing apples, promoting crunch events and day-of crunch activities. This partnership has also created some friendly competition among participating states, and while Michigan had a spot on the podium this year, we aim to move up the rankings in 2020!
Please continue to share your Michigan Apple Crunch photos and stories to the Michigan Apple Crunch Facebook Page, and visit the page frequently to see the other crunchers from across Michigan in action.
Picture above: OLHSA Grandparents Raising Grandchildren from Macob and Oakland counties enjoyed crunching into apples in Hazel Park (picture courtesy Lisa Grodsky)
Picture in Front Page: Shoreline Elementary School in Whitehall District Schools celebrated the Apple Crunch and turned the cores into compost! (picture coustesy Lindsay Mensch, MSU Center for Regional Food Systems)