A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

It’s Farm to School Month: State says schools should connect with local farmers for nutritious meals

By Tom Latek
Kentucky Today

Kentucky schools are being encouraged to connect with local farmers and small businesses to create farm-fresh, nutritious meals for students during October’s Farm to School Month, says the state’s agriculture department.

Photo from Kentucky Department of Agriculture

“Kentucky’s farm families grow fresh, nutritious foods all year long, but during the month of October we like to raise awareness about how we connect them to our schools,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles.

The KDA and the Kentucky Department of Education’s Division of School and Community Nutrition are sponsoring “Kentucky Crunch,” which encourages students, schools, families, local producers and community members to buy local varieties of their favorite fruits and vegetables and show the positive impacts of Kentucky’s Farm to School program initiatives on students.

“Our Farm to School program enables local farmers to tap into a local market for their products, while at the same time allowing schools to provide locally-grown food for its students. The KDA’s Farm to School Program is committed to getting fresh, high-quality Kentucky Proud foods into our school systems,” Quarles said.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2019 Farm to School Census, more than 68% of Kentucky’s School Food Authorities already procure local foods that are served directly to students through the Child Nutrition Programs across the state. That 68% means there are 967 schools with 541,992 students receiving locally sourced food products for the school meals.

The KDA also runs the Junior Chef program, a statewide competition of high school culinary teams. Each “season” concludes with the state tournament in August at the Kentucky State Fair, where regional champions compete for scholarship opportunities at Sullivan University and a coveted skillet trophy.

To find out more about the Farm to School program, go to kyagr.com.

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