Getting fresh fruits and veggies onto kids’ plates is one of the goals of local farm-to-school efforts. This idea of buying local is going national with support from the U-S Department of Agriculture. The USDA recently conducted a census of schools across the state and the country.
USDA Undersecretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services Kevin Concannon said the farm-to-school model fits in with new school meal requirements calling for schools to serve fruits and vegetables every day.
The census counts 43-percent of schools nationwide are involved with farm-to-school programs. In Montana about 37-percent of schools have farm-to-school programs. Colcannon said the USDA’s goal is to get farm to school in more districts to serve a dual purpose of supplying meals, and creating an educational opportunity.
“But also the importance of consistently eating healthy foods, less processed foods, and farm to school is part of the movement that helps us move that down the road,” Concannon said.
Concannon said in Montana apples, beef, milk and potatoes are among the top items sourced locally by schools. He said across the state schools are spending an average of 12% of their food budgets on farm-to-school initiatives.