These Carrollton Elementary School students explore seedlings coming up in a school garden on campus. Gardening is strongly integrated in the school’s STEM program.
CARROLLTON, GA – The Carrollton City Schools Nutrition Program is one of 65 grantees spanning 42 states and Puerto Rico receiving support this year through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farm-to-School Grant Program, an effort to better connect school cafeterias and students with local farmers and ranchers. Carrollton’s School Nutrition Program received a $62,625 implementation grant to impact the almost 5,000 students across the school district.
“Increasing the amount of local foods in America’s schools is a win-win for everyone,” federal Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said. “Our children benefit from the fresh, local food served in their meals at school, and local economies are nourished, as well, when schools buy the food they provide close to home.”
“This grant is a great opportunity for our school district and school nutrition program to continue to expand our farm-to-school program,” said Dr. Linette Dodson, director of Carrollton City Schools School Nutrition. “These funds will help us take a big leap into further implementing this important initiative in our district and with our community.”
Carrollton will use the implementation funds to help purchase a food trailer and additional equipment, provide farm-to-school training for teachers and school nutrition staff, provide support for farm-to-school curriculum integration and further expansion of Georgia Grown food items.
“It is exciting to see our school nutrition program be a catalyst for continued academic support and also with promoting a healthy school environment,” said Mrs. Kelli Cook, School Nutrition coordinator.
According to the 2015 USDA Farm to School Census, schools with strong farm-to-school programs report higher school meal participation, reduced food waste, and increased willingness of the students to try new foods, notably fruits and vegetables. In addition, in school year 2013-2014 alone, schools purchased more than $789 million in local food from farmers, ranchers, fishermen, and food processors and manufacturers. Nearly half (47 percent) of these districts plan to purchase even more local foods in future school years.
In addition to school meals, USDA's Food and Nutrition Service administers several other nutrition programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (Commonly known as WIC), and the Summer Food Service Program. Together, these programs comprise America's nutrition safety net. For more information, visit www.fns.usda.gov. Farm-to-school is one of many ways USDA supports local and regional food systems, and the Local Food Compass Map showcases the federal investments in these efforts.