Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Breakfast and summer meal grants announced; First recipient to connect kids with local, fresh-cooked meals

Okay, so I'm a bit out of practice. My summers are spent focusing on coordinating our county-wide Harvest Celebration Farm Tour, and the Farm-to-School blog has been neglected. I apologize.

But here's a little positive news to kick-start it again!

Here's the basic info:

"East Side Entrees, the Woodbury supplier of school meals, yesterday
announced a $9-million, three-year initiative to help school districts around the country boost student participation in breakfast and summer meal programs."

"These programs would target districts and areas where high portions of the student population are eligible for free or reduced-price meals and provide free breakfast to all students, in the classroom, to remove any negative stigma associated with subsidized meals."

Sounds great, but how will it be used, and how does this relate to farm-to-school specifically?
Turns out the first recipient school district, Baltimore Public Schools, "plans to revamp the schools' food services system by building kitchens so that the department can begin cooking its own food instead of reheating processed food, purchasing local food that's fresh and cheaper and turning a 33-acre farm into a classroom to teach children about nutrition and connect them with their foods' origins."

I'll admit I'm a little confused here. The grantor is East Side Entrees, a company who sell pre-packaged, shelf-stable breakfast boxes using branded food items. I'm a bit surprised that they're funding grants that can be used to revive kitchens to cook more fresh, local food. I also can't find info about how to apply for the grants, and their offices are closed for the day. I guess we'll have to wait and see how these grants will be distributed, and how to apply. It's worth checking into if you are connected to a school with a high percentage of students eligible for free and reduced priced meals.

All quotes from: Giving kids a $9M breakfast boost, by Newsday's Keiko Morris. Here's a lengthier article about the program from the Baltimore Sun: "Food for thought: In-class breakfast for city schools"