The 6th annual Farm to School Manitoba Healthy Choice Fundraiser program is kicking off and helping kids feed families and raise money at the same time. The program is a fundraiser for schools and daycares across the province. They get to keep 50 per cent of what they sell; the rest goes to the farmers, who are offering them the produce at a reduced rate. 

The students sell packages of locally grown veggies like carrots, potatoes, onions, and parsnips in $10 or $20 bundles. Customers can either keep them or donate them to a local food bank. The fundraising school keeps its share of the profits either way. Last year the program raised over $400,000 for schools and child-care centres across the province.

A student picks carrots growing in the Winnipeg Harvest food garden.

A student picks carrots growing in the Winnipeg Harvest food garden. (Holly Caruk)

"Being able to put forward a fundraiser where they are having a first hand in purchasing those items and seeing that they come from a local source is important." says Adriana Findlay, co-ordinator for Farm to School.

The program is designed as an alternative to the chocolate bar and cookie dough sales of past years to encourage healthy eating. The program also educates students about where food comes from.

The program works in partnership with Peak of the Market and its growers, as well as the Manitoba Association of Food Banks. Peak of the Market provides the vegetables as well as the transportation costs, which includes delivering some packages in remote communities to northern Manitoba.

Students helped pick veggies from the Winnipeg Harvest food garden. The vegetables will be distribut

Students from East-Selkirk Middle School helped pick veggies from the Winnipeg Harvest food garden. The vegetables will be distributed to local families.

The program delivers some 40,000 kilograms of vegetables each year to food banks across Manitoba, said David Northcott, executive director of Winnipeg Harvest. He said it's not only hungry families who benefit, but it's a win-win all around. 

"The magic of the whole thing is here is fresh vegetables coming from Manitoba growers being donated to school kids. And the food is going to families and is being donated to food banks in their communities. "said Northcott.

The program runs from now until December at participating schools.