HardCORE CT Apple Challenge

Celebrate National Farm to School Month with us this October!

Welcome to the CT Apple Challenge Toolbox

Celebrate National Farm to School Month this October by joining the HardCORE Apple Challenge 2018! By participating you are promoting one of the most readily available local products in the Fall in a fun and simple way that engages the entire school community.

To take part, feature Connecticut apples and…

  • Eat a #CTGrown apple down to its core
  • Try 2 different types of #CTGrown apple
  • Visit a local apple orchard
  • Any other apple activity that helps kids connect to local food - get creative!

Try being HardCORE during CT Grown for CT Kids week (October 1st - 5th) or National Food Day (October 24th)! We hope this page will help you get started. If you have any questions, please contact us!


We’ve collected a number of recipe ideas for incorporating local apples into your summer menu, whether you offer hot or cold meals. These recipes have been developed, tested, and approved by school food service professionals and kids!

Butternut Squash and Apple Casserole

Couple apples with another quintessential taste of fall with this recipe. This is a recipe contest winner from Pittsfield Public Schools in Massachusetts, and is sure to brighten up any lunch line!

Vermont Maple Apple French Toast Bake

A warm breakfast treat to serve on a crisp fall morning! This is a great recipe to liven up any leftover bread.

Gingered Cabbage Salad

Spice up a cabbage salad with a touch of fresh ginger and a hint of sweetness from crisp apples!

Peanut Butter Apple Wraps

A simple, familiar pairing sure to satisfy the taste buds!

Wheat Berry & Apple Salad

A great way to introduce wheat berries with a familiar fruit!

Waldorf Fruit Salad

A classic take on fresh apples!
Below are recipes given to our team to share with the world, straight from Connecticut school cafeterias! They are formatted for food service, and have all been tested for student approval: 

Apple Butternut Squash Casserole 

Apple and Grapes Waldorf Salad

Apple Crisp

Apple Cucumber Salad


Harvest Apple Muffin

Harvest Delight 

Baked Apples, Wedges
Baked Apples, Whole
Baked Apples, Slices 

Recommended Reading:

  • One Green Apple
    • Farah feels alone, since it's hard being the new kid in school, especially when you’re from another country and don’t know the language. On a field trip to an apple orchard, Farah discovers there are lots of things that remind her of home. As she helps the class make apple cider, Farah connects with the other students and begins to feel that she belongs.
  • The Apple Orchard Riddle
    • Students learn a lot about apples and apple orchards—including how apples are harvested, how cider is made, and what the different varieties of apples are—while trying to solve a riddle.
  • Apple Farmer Annie
    • Annie is a very busy apple farmer. She bakes yummy treats with the apples she picks and saves her best apples to sell at the market. Follow Annie through her apple-filled day of picking, counting, sorting, baking, and selling.
  •  The Seasons of Arnold's Apple Tree
    • This book about nature and the changing seasons focuses on a young boy and a very special apple tree.
  •  Apples  by Gail Gibbons
    • Explains how apples were brought to America, how they grow, their traditional uses and cultural significance, and some of the varieties grown.
  • Apples by Jacqueline Farmer
    • Describes the cultivation and uses of apples.
  • Apples and Pumpkins by Anne Rockwell
    • In preparation for Halloween night, a family visits Mr. Comstock's farm to pick apples and pumpkins.
  • Apples to Applesauce by Inez Snyder
    • In this fun and informative series, curious readers will discover how some of their favorite products are made from start to finish.
  • The Apple Pie Tree by Zoe Hall
    • Two sisters rejoice as the colorful blossoms on their tree develop into big, red, and ready-to-pick apples. This concept book about how things grow includes an easy recipe for apple pie.
  • How to Make an Apple Pie and see the World by Marjorie Priceman
    • An apple pie is easy to make...if the market is open. But if the market is closed, the world becomes your grocery store. This deliciously silly recipe for apple pie takes readers around the globe to gather ingredients.
  • The Apple Pie that Papa Baked by Lauren Thompson
    • Story about baking a delicious apple pie.


Check out these apple themed lessons for grades K-5 that can be adapted, brought to you by FoodCorps!

Our friends on the CT Apple Marketing Board have a great teacher resource page filled with all things apples. There are a variety of activity sheets, flashcards, and a list of over 50 reading selections to enhance your HardCORE CT Apple events!

Check it out here!


Community Engagement

Community engagement is a key piece of celebrating farm to school. We want more families to know about and take advantage of the important service you provide, and we want community partners to know about the great work you are doing. We’ve drafted a template letter (CT Apple Challenge Community Engagement Letter) for you to send out to your community partners to let them know you’ve signed onto the HardCORE CT Apple Challenge, and let them know how they can help out! Feel free to edit this to suit your individual program and needs. Here are some ways you could use this letter:

  • Send to PTO to solicit help out with a Local Tray Day event (community package provided to them)
  • Ask your local grocery store to feature local apples in the produce section, provide recipe cards
  • Ask your local library to put together an apple book table (some specific books are recommended in the activity section)”


Social Media

Here we’ve put together some sample text to help you get the word out about your HardCORE activities during the CT Apple Challenge

  • School newsletter sample text:
    • “____ [school district] has taken on the HardCORE CT Apple Challenge to celebrate Farm to School month! We’ll be serving local apples and handing out prizes during the month of October!”
  • Facebook sample text:
    • General Post: We’re participating in the HardCORE CT Apple Challnge! We’re serving up #local, #fresh, #ctgrown apples in our school meals in October. 
    • Promoting a specific HardCORE apple event: Join us in being HardCORE by eating some local apples this week at ___ site on ___day! We’ll be doing __(activity)___as a part of the CT Apple Challenge. Fall is here and we’re happy to be supporting #ctfarmers, and learning #healthyhabits!
  • Twitter
    • Hey @CTFarmToSchool, we’ve taken the #CTAppleChallenge at __ site in ___today serving #local, #fresh apples from ___ farm!
  • Instagram
    • Create your own with these great hashtags!: #CTAppleChallenge, #HardCORE, #ctlocal, #eatlocal, #eatfresh, #crunch, #FarmToSchool, #CTGrown


Community Newsletter


The Community Newsletter is a colorful double-sided editable resource that includes apple nutritional facts, a take-home recipe and activity. You can hand these out at your apple event, or send them out ahead of time to let folks know about upcoming events. The main section on the front page is ideal for including information about how you’re celebrating local apples this fall! Download Newsletter







Procurement Tools

Finding local produce and making sure you follow USDA procurement guidelines isn’t an easy task, so we’ve pulled together some tools to make it easier for you to find local apples this fall.

Have questions? Talk with our Procurement Specialist! Email Mary Ann

count me in!

HardCORE CT Apple Challenge Takers 2018*!

  • New Milford Public Schools
  • South Windsor Public Schools
  • Easton, Redding & Region 9 School Districts
  • Captain Nathan Hale School
  • Mansfield Public Schools
  • Cheshire Public Schools
  • Avon Public Schools
  • Canton Public Schools
  • Region 10 Schools
  • Bozrah Public Schools
  • Coventry Public Schools
  • North Haven Montowese Elementary
  • Joshua Center Northeast
  • Norwalk Public Schools
  • Bridgeport Public Schools
  • Ansonia Public Schools
  • New Haven Public Schools
  • Naugatuck Public Schools
  • New Britain Public Schools
  • Middletown Public Schools
  • Hartford Public Schools
  • East Hartford Public Schools
  • Windham Public Schools
  • Meriden Public Schools
  • Norwich Public Schools
  • New London Public Schools
  • Groton Public Schools
  • Naugatuck Public Schools
  • *Be added to this continuously updated list by clicking the apple above!
To get some additional shout outs for your HardCORE activities, email molly.putlocalonyourtray@gmail.com with any stories, pictures, quotes, etc!

Promotional Materials



  • Print your own on avery labels
  • Hand out as prizes for completing the CT Apple Challenge
  • Download Sticker







  • Hang somewhere at your site when local apples are on the menu
  • Hang on the front of a table where you’ve set up apple taste tests or activities
  • Take a picture of a kid eating an apple in front of it and post it on social media. (Hint: don’t forget to mention the farm that grew your apples!)
  • Download Posters










  • Edit the front page to let everyone know when you’ll be serving local
  • Send home with students
  • Hand out to the PTO
  • Share with administrators
  • Leave a stack at the local library (and use the Apple Letter to let them know what the project is all about!) 
  • Download Newsletter








  • Print your own and hand out as prizes for completing the CT Apple Challenge
  • Include in bagged lunches
  • Leave a stack at the local library (and use the community engagement letter to let them know what the project is all about!
  • Download the bookmark















  • Print your own temporary tattoos and hand out as prizes for completing the CT Apple Challenge (we recommend 2″x2″)
  • Use as rewards for participating in other apple-themed activities (see activity section below)
  • Take pictures of kids eating local apples with their apple tattoos and post to social media (if you have photo permissions of course) Tag us @CTFarmToSchool, and #CTAppleChallenge, #ctgrown (see Communications section below for more social media ideas)
  • Download Tatoos