Metcalfe County Schools is pleased to announce its Farm to School Program is one of 65 projects spanning 42 states and Puerto Rico receiving support this year through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farm to School Grant Program, an effort to better connect school cafeterias and students with local farmers and ranchers. The Metcalfe County School District received a USDA Implementation Grant for $97,601, which will impact more than 1,500 students and their families.
“Increasing the amount of local foods in America’s schools is a win-win for everyone,” U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said. “Our children benefit from the fresh, local food served in their meals at school, and local economies are nourished, as well, when schools buy the food they provide close to home.”
Metcalfe County Schools is the only grantee in Kentucky. The district will use the implementation grant funds to increase fruit and vegetable production on school grounds, increase the number of fruits and vegetables sold and bought for the schools and the community, increase experiential nutrition education activities in the schools, and increase the number of partnerships with community-based organizations and agricultural groups. To achieve these goals, the school district will work closely with partners at the UK 4-H Extension Office, Edmonton-Metcalfe County Chamber of Commerce, Metcalfe County Farmers Market, Community Action of Southern Kentucky and several local and regional farmers.
“Our goal is to provide smaller greenhouses at the elementary school as well a new and updated greenhouse at the high school. Each school will have an indoor ‘tower garden’ as well,” Metcalfe County Superintendent Dr. Benny Lile said.” This is a wonderful opportunity to involve all of our students with the community, working together to provide locally grown products.”
According to the 2015 USDA Farm to School Census, schools with strong farm to school programs report higher school meal participation, reduced food waste, and increased willingness of the students to try new foods, notably fruits and vegetables. In addition, in school year 2013-2014 alone, schools purchased more than $789 million in local food from farmers, ranchers, fishermen, and food processors and manufacturers. Nearly half (47 percent) of these districts plan to purchase even more local foods in future school years.
In addition to school meals, USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service administers several other nutrition programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (Commonly known as WIC), and the Summer Food Service Program. Together, these programs comprise America’s nutrition safety net. For more information, visit www.fns.usda.gov.