Bayfield Regional Food Producers Cooperative, Wisconsin: Bayfield 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, Iowa: The programs 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%, USDA reports.
Vilsack said the projects highlight the need for a new farm bill, as producers require renewed and expanded access to programs to fuel demand for local food in new markets.
Farm to school programs increase market opportunities for producers and food businesses, including food processors, manufacturers, and distributors, USDA said. The 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 projects announced Tuesday are expected to build on previous program success; 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, USDA said.
For a complete list of FY14 Farm to School grant recipients, click here.