Tuesday, July 19, 2011

News about recent WSDA Farm-to-School Mobile Tour in Spokane Area

Schools, farms connecting to benefit student meals

Part of process is encouraging kids to try new foods
July 15, 2011 in DTE News
By Julie Schaffer, Down to Earth NW Correspondent

Late last month, local farmers, school nutrition staff, and Department of Corrections representatives spent a day touring local farms, sampling locally-produced food, and learning how to wash, peel, chop, dice, and serve fresh produce in school kitchens.

Leading the tour were Becky Elias and Sue Davis from “Farm to Schools,” a Washington State Department of Agriculture program that works to increase the amount of Washington-grown foods purchased by state agencies, institutions, and schools.

Also helping facilitate the tour was Jennifer Hall, the Eastern Washington coordinator for “Fresh Food in Schools,” a program with similar goals which is run through the nonprofit Washington Sustainable Food & Farming Network.

The Farm-to-School tours are one way that Elias and Davis are attempting to connect local farmers with potential buyers and to hopefully facilitate long-term direct purchasing relationships. If successful, the result will be more fresh foods available at school lunchrooms.

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USDA Finds New Ways To Boost Farm-to-School Programs

MINNEAPOLIS -- The popularity of farm-to-school programs that put locally grown food on cafeteria trays has exploded in recent years – so much so that the federal agency in charge of school lunches is giving them a new stamp of approval.

Deputy Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Merrigan said the programs have become so popular so fast that her agency doesn't have solid figures on how many schools are serving their students vegetables, fruits and meat grown by local farmers.

"We know it's just snowballing," Merrigan said in an interview with The Associated Press before her appearance Tuesday at the School Nutrition Association convention in Nashville, Tenn...

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