It is an exciting week in the cafeterias in Virginia, Virginia Department of Education and the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services have teamed up to promote the Virginia Farm-to-School program during the week of November 9 -13, 2009. The Farm-to-School program is an initiative that wants to bring nutritious fresh food from local farms to schools. In Virginia, Farm-to-School will help more of those dollars to stay within the state and support our local farmers. This will also help guarantee a future for our farms by developing a relationship between the next generation and the farmers. Farm-to-School is more than just serving locally grown foods in the school cafeteria for one day, it is designed to bring in many types of programs and school experiences. These experiences include the planting and tending of school gardens, and educating children about nutrition, the seasonality of food products, and the importance of supporting local farms.
Rappahannock County has done a great job with their year round farm to table programs and they will be serving a locally raised and produced lunch today with items from Jenkins Orchard, The Farm at Sunnyside, Williams Orchard, and Adams Slaughterhouse. This is brought to the RCPS schools with a lot of team work between RCPS Food Service Director Brenda Payne and Farm-to-Table Program Director Trista Scheuerlein. They are working with Virginia Cooperative Extension, the Fodderstack Food Working Group, Piedmont Environmental Council and the Buy Fresh, Buy Local campaign. They will also have local farmers at information booths in both school cafeterias. They are also inviting local farmers and farm interns to come and eat lunch with students that day to discuss what it’s like to produce food for people here in Rappahannock County.
The Local Food Hub in Charlottesville is pleased to be serving and supplying the food to schools in the area. They are working hard to develop a constant source for the schools to find local food easily and affordably. They are proud to support Virginia Farm-to-School Week by supplying 17 regional public and private schools with fresh, locally grown fruits, vegetables, meat and cheese.
“We’re supplying schools with a diversity of fresh produce, including apples, kale, cauliflower, winter squash, potatoes, radishes, lettuce, eggs, cheese and ground beef, all grown and produced right here in central Virginia. By building this relationship between our local schools and farms, we are also providing fresher, healthier lunches, helping to fight childhood obesity, and creating opportunities to teach our kids about biology, geography, health and local economics.” “In addition to helping our kids understand where their food comes from, Farm-to-School week is also an opportunity to support our local farmers, “ from Kate Collier, founder of the Local Food Hub. “Virginia schools spend more than $6 million annually on fresh produce – this gives us an opportunity to keep those dollars in our state, supporting our local economy. The Local Food Hub is excited to participate this year and we hope that eventually, local foods will find a permanent place on Virginia’s school menus.”
According to Todd P. Haymore, the commissioner of the VDACS:
“Virginia’s Farm-to-School program is about creating connections between growers, distributors and educational institutions. Through these connections, we can provide healthy, locally grown foods and support our agricultural economy. The program can play a role in addressing the problem of childhood obesity. Agriculture is Virginia’s number one industry, with an annual economic impact of $55 billion. Virginia’s Farm-to-School creates a win-win situation for Virginia’s children and for Virginia’s farmers.”
For more information you can look at the VDACS Farm-to-School Web site contains helpful resources on the Farm-to-School initiative at: http://www.vdacs.virginia.gov/marketing/farm.shtml.