The USDA has announced grants for 71 projects in 42 states and the District of Columbia to support efforts to connect school cafeterias with local farmers and ranchers through the Farm to School program. The projects will serve more than 13,000 schools and 2.8 million students, nearly 45 percent of whom live in rural communities. Among the projects...
Somerville Public Schools in Massachusetts will work to develop a district-wide farm to school program with community partners that focus on creating youth jobs and promoting healthy eating and physical education.
Olympia School District in Washington State will partner with two local farms to help students apply biology, American history, and horticulture skills towards farm management. The farms will grow organic produce for the school district and serve as an outdoor educational space for students.
Bayfield Regional Food Producers Cooperative in Wisconsin will overcome the obstacles of a short growing season by helping local school districts install and manage high tunnels to supplement school gardens. In addition to providing nutrient-dense hardy greens and other vegetables to the students in their lunches and snacks, the high tunnels will allow educators to implement experiential, project-based learning in the spring and fall seasons.
Northeast Iowa Food & Fitness Initiative and Upper Explorerland Regional Planning Commission in Iowa will work with local farmers and a newly established food hub to boost production to meet the needs of local schools. They have set a goal with four rural school districts to increase local purchases by 200 percent.
USDA also recently released the results of its first-ever Farm to School Census, which showed that in school year 2011-2012, school districts purchased and served over $350 million in local food, with more than half of participating schools planning to purchase more local foods in the future.