Feb. 14, 2013
Local farm products used more frequently in school food programs
Colorado students are getting more of a taste of locally grown foods at the lunch table. That’s because the Colorado Farm-to-School program is increasing the number of school districts participating in its programs. Farm-to-school in Colorado has grown from 22 public school districts in 2010 to 64 public school districts in 2012. The aim of the Farm-to-school program is to increase the use of local farm and ranch products in school foodservice programs to improve child nutrition and strengthen local and regional agricultural economies.
“In light of the increased requirements of fruits and vegetables in school meals, the work of the task force is very valuable and timely,” said Jane Brand, director, Office of School Nutrition at CDE and task force member. “I’m very proud of the work the task force has accomplished and look forward to continuing to support school district participation.”
The task force continues to offer resources and recommendations to help connect Colorado schools with locally produced food. The task force’s annual report, which provides an overview of the work accomplished over the past two years as well as recommendations for improving farm-to-school efforts in the state, is available at http://bit.ly/WH91O5.
“Since its inception, the task force has been active in identifying, pursuing, and implementing opportunities to grow farm-to-school all across the state of Colorado,” said Jeremy West, Greeley-Evans Weld County School District nutrition service director and chair of the task force. “Colorado is an emerging leader in farm-to-school efforts, the task force is providing resources to make it easier for schools to get involved and buy local foods.”
The task force has helped guide or support school districts through endorsements and grant-seeking farm-to-school pilot projects, including efforts in Durango, Montrose, Gunnison, Greeley, Denver, and Colorado Springs. Three Colorado school districts were awarded USDA Farm-to-school grants in 2012.
1. Denver Public Schools: An implementation grant to expand farm-to-school efforts, including buying more local products, implementing a local food system curriculum, and continuing to develop food safety practices for urban farms. ($99,966)
2. Greeley/Evans (Weld County 6): An implementation grant to expand the district’s food hub to better aggregate, minimally process and distribute farm fresh produce to schools in their district and in neighboring communities. ($83,000)
3. Fort Lupton (Weld County Re-8): A planning grant to strengthen contacts and agreements with local farms and expand the pool of producers interested in selling to the district. In addition, funds will be used to improve a kitchen facility so the district can prepare, store and serve local fresh produce. ($45,000)
The Colorado Farm-to-School Task Force was created in 2010 by the Colorado General Assembly. The 13-member body is comprised of representatives from schools, parents, producer organizations and state agencies.
For technical assistance, E-Mail: CDE_Communications_Office@cde.state.co.us