Farm to School Program

The good news for kids this year is that they’re getting healthier foods in the meals they eat at school, thanks to new USDA standards that include a call for more servings of fruit and vegetables, some of which will likely be fresh produce from local farms. But with recent media reports peppered with stories about fresh produce such as cantaloupes, mangoes and lettuce (from specific farms and distributors) being recalled due to outbreaks of foodborne illnesses and three deaths from contaminated cantaloupes, this question comes to mind: Who are the food-safety cops and what are they doing to
Continue Reading School Kids Chowing Down on Healthier Foods, But Who Are the Food Safety Cops?

Farm to school food programs are set to receive a boost this October in the form of $3.5 million in federal grant money.

Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Kathleen Merrigan announced Tuesday that the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service is now accepting applications for a series of grants – each one to be no more than  $100,000 – to fund programs that bring locally produced foods to school cafeterias.
kids-vegetables-350.jpgThe money was earmarked by the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act (HHFKA) of 2010 championed by First Lady Michelle Obama. The act aims to improve child nutrition nationwide in order to

Continue Reading USDA Makes Grants Available for Farm to School Programs

Efforts to serve local food in schools are expanding nationwide, but creating a market between small farms and school districts still poses many challenges, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s first report on farm-to-school initiatives.

vegforschools-featured.jpgOver the past year, a team of nine government representatives visited 15 school districts operating farm to school programs to determine how these types of projects can be strengthened and repeated in other regions.

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan announced the group’s findings at the School Nutrition Association National Convention in Nashville last week.

“Farm to school programs are a great way to bring

Continue Reading USDA Releases First Farm to School Evaluation

Editor’s Note: This article is part of a continuing series on the Vashon Island School District’s new school lunch program, and the farm-to-school movement in this Washington state community.

Most farmers would rather sift through a batch of seeds than a pile of paperwork. Yet selling to the public requires a food safety plan, which means time spent behind the desk in addition to out in the field.

Now an innovative program in Washington state aims to create streamlined guidelines for food safety that will allow small farms to profit from the local food movement without getting bogged down in bureaucracy.

Continue Reading Sizing Food Safety to Fit Small Farms

A school district in Washington state has ditched frozen French fries and chicken fingers this year in favor of fresh fare. Not only are meals now made from scratch daily, but produce grown by local farmers will soon be featured on the menu.

farmschoolveggies-featured.jpgThis fall, the Vashon Island School District, serving two islands adjacent to Seattle, implemented a new, health-focused food program that has turned kitchen staff into chefs and students into diners.

School meals are now prepared using only fresh ingredients, and are served the day they are made. New menus have been created to reflect a balanced diet,
Continue Reading School Lunch Program Goes Local, Safely

Two top food-focused administration officials visited a D.C. elementary school yesterday to kick off the Second Annual D.C. Farm to School Week, part of a wider initiative to improve school food nutrition and help children learn about where their food comes from.
Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan and White House Assistant Chef–and Senior Policy Adviser for Health Food Initiatives–Sam Kass kicked off the celebration at Savoy Elementary School in Southeast Washington, D.C. The event highlighted USDA’s HealthierUS School Challenge, a campaign that recognizes schools for excellence in nutrition and physical education programs.

“As schools across the country celebrate National

Continue Reading White House, USDA Celebrate Farm to School Program