IDALS Launches New Farm-To-School Program

Iowa Department of Agriculture program is designed to connect local farms with school meal programs.

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey announced last week a new Web site for the Iowa Farm-to-School program, which is designed to improve child nutrition and strengthen local and regional farm economies by partnering farmers with local schools. To learn more visit www.agriculture.state.ia.us/farmToSchool.htm.

The Farm-to-School program will provide an increased opportunity for schools to connect with local farmers to provide children across the state with fresh, locally grown, seasonal fruit and vegetables, meat, milk, eggs and nuts in their lunches. In addition to including local foods in school meals, the program helps build a connection between students and farmers who grow and produced their food.

"I'm very excited about the opportunities through the new Farm-to-School program to help students across Iowa eat better and develop a greater understanding of agriculture," says Northey.

Connects schools with local farmers

Farm-to-School promotes the image of Iowa, the value of Iowa products and nutrition in schools in the state, resulting in increasing the awareness and demand for Iowa products. "There is a growing interest statewide in locally-grown and produced food," notes Northey. "The Iowa Farm-to-School program provides farmers and schools with a chance to connect and share resources. This is a tremendous opportunity to tell the story of agriculture and the important role it plays in Iowa's economy."

The Iowa Farm-to-School program was created by legislation that passed during the 2007 session of the Iowa Legislature. The legislation provides funding to link schools and children with local farmers and organizations to offer fresh, locally- grown food and nutrition based on educational opportunities. The program is being coordinated through Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and the Iowa Department of Education.

The legislation also established a Farm-to-School Council that will establish partnerships between public agencies and nonprofit organizations facilitate communication between farmers and schools. To learn more about the Farm-to-School Program, go to www.agriculture.state.ia.us/farmToSchool.htm or contact Larry Thomsen at [email protected] or 515-281-8136.

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