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Program Encourages Schools to Bring Local Produce to Lunch Tray

By Evelina Burnett | Published 11 Nov 2013 06:43pm | comments
Signs about the farm to school program are featured prominently in the Pass Christian High School cafeteria.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says about 17 percent of Mississippi school districts are participating in farm to school activities.

MPB’s Evelina Burnett reports the national program encourages schools to bring local produce to the lunch tray.

Saundra Isabelle is food services director for the Pass Christian School District. She says they enjoy getting a variety of Mississippi produce.

Last year, the Mississippi farm to school program provided 15,000 cases of local fruits and vegetables -- like tomatoes, squash, blueberries and butter beans -- to school cafeterias around the state.

The program is run jointly by the state departments of education and agriculture.

Priscilla Ammerman is with the education department's office of child nutrition. She says, through this program, they spent $300,000 on local produce, helping local economies. There are also other benefits, such as fresher produce. 

Ammerman says school cafeterias also buy Mississippi products through the statewide purchasing cooperative. Some school districts also source locally.

USDA Undersecretary Kevin Concannon says offering local produce can encourage kids to eat more fruits and veggies.

According to a USDA survey, 27 Mississippi school districts are participating in farm to school activities, such as buying local products and building edible gardens. 

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Signs about the farm to school program are featured prominently in the Pass Christian High School cafeteria.


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