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Farm Bureau distributing educational place mats to local eateries

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LOWVILLE — The Lewis County Farm Bureau is hoping to educate local diners about where their food comes from, one place mat at a time.

“It’s different, it’s educational and it’s kind of fun to have that conversation with your kids,” said Jennifer L. Karelus, Lewis County Farm Bureau president.

The county chapter is one of several throughout the state that will distribute educational place mats to local restaurants as part of a pilot program of the New York Farm Bureau Foundation for Agricultural Education, the state association’s educational arm.

County Farm Bureau members have received 1,200 mats, titled “New York Farmers Fill Your Plate,” that they will be delivering in the coming month to interested local restaurants for use on their tables.

Interested eateries and other businesses or organizations are asked to contact the Lewis County Farm Bureau at 376-6453 or by email at jlbeckman34@yahoo.com.

“The colorful double-sided sheets feature a number of games, trivia, and positive messages about farming,” a release from the New York Farm Bureau said. “While the place mats will be highly entertaining for children at the dinner table, they also may serve as a fun addition to an organization’s banquet or picnic.”

Mrs. Karelus said her organization will solicit feedback on the place mats that will help guide state Farm Bureau officials as they consider expanding the program next year.

A place mat program in the past has been done locally by the Dairy Industry Building Committee, most recently in 2006, she said.

“We had really good feedback from it,” Mrs. Karelus said. “Restaurants had actually called to ask for more.”

However, those mats were focused specifically on the Lewis County dairy industry, while the new ones are more broad-based.

“I would say it’s more geared toward the general public — not just where your milk comes from but where did your food come from,” Mrs. Karelus said.

The place mats show the raw products necessary to construct a typical cheeseburger and include games, activities and other facts about farming.

Other county Farm Bureau chapters participating in the pilot place mat program are: Broome, Oswego, Dutchess-Putnam-Westchester, Niagara, Ontario, Wayne, Seneca, Tompkins and Delaware.

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