New Grant Will Increase Local Foods in School Cafeterias

We're pleased to be one of 71 projects spanning 42 states and the District of Columbia to receive a USDA Farm to School Program grant. We were awarded $99,600 for a project to bring farmers and schools together.

Our goal is to move Farm to School into the forefront in Nebraska. The program allows for healthier food choices for our children. It helps them understand where their food comes from. And it impacts local economies as local farmers supply food to schools across the state.

As some of these young minds understand where and how the food they eat is grown, it might just open up an opportunity to nurture new farmers for our future, too.

USDA Farm to School grants help schools respond to the growing demand for locally sourced foods and increase market opportunities for producers and food businesses, including food processors, manufacturers, and distributors. Grants will also be used to support agriculture and nutrition education efforts such as school gardens, field trips to local farms, and cooking classes.

The Center for Rural Affairs will use support service funds to provide training and technical assistance to both farmers and food service personnel on how to start a Farm to School program. The Center will work with farmers and 10 schools to facilitate the connections that need to be made for successful Farm to School programs.

Training will be offered in farm food safety and usage for farmers and school food service personnel. Two convenings will introduce farmers to food service personnel, and year two will include invitations to key people in the state who will be able to hear the success stories of programs started through this work.

Two schools committed to participating in the project when the application was completed: Bancroft-Rosalie and the Santee Community school. Partners on the project include the Nebraska Department of Education Nutritional Services, the Nebraska Food Cooperative, and the Nebraska Farmers Union.

In addition, we're fortunate to have the expertise of Mrs. Linda Truscott, a long-time food service director at Norris school, who runs a successful long-term Farm to School program. The types of local products students will be trying this year include a variety of fruits and vegetables, milk, cheese, eggs, and meat.

Please visit us in the upcoming months to see how the project is progressing. Check here for the Center's Farm to School Facebook page.

USDA is focused on improving childhood nutrition and empowering families to make healthier food choices by providing science-based information and advice, while expanding the availability of healthy food. USDA's Farm to School Program is part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, which authorized USDA to provide grants and technical assistance to help schools gain better access to local foods. For a complete list of fiscal year 2014 Farm to School grant recipients, look here.