Let them Eat Healthy: USDA's Farm-to-School Programs Receive $4.5 Million

Michelle Obama and students

Efforts to bring healthier food to our nation’s schools have been kicked up a notch with the USDA’s recent announcement of more than $4.5 million in grant money that will bring fresh foods from local farms to school cafeterias across the country.

More than 3,000 schools in 37 states will receive initial funding from the Farm-to-School program that should bring healthier food options—and food education programs—to more than 1.75 million students, reports the USDA. Funding comes by way of The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, passed by President Obama.

The grant money will be used in several capacities including developing food prep and cooking curriculums, creating school gardens, taking students on field trips to local farms and improving distribution to help ensure locally produced food is routed to schools. It will also create jobs in order to help coordinate between farms and schools.

California will see the development of a streamlined distribution of local produce through a program in conjunction with the Community Alliance of Family Farmers.

Some school districts will also see new menu items focused on regionally available grains, legumes and beans as well as fruits and vegetables. According to SustainableBusiness.com, a Lake County Community Development Corporation plan in Montana will “coordinate with regional lentil farmers to procure protein and fiber rich lentil patties.”

Reducing childhood obesity and diet-related illnesses such as type 2 diabetes has become a focal point for activists and organizations in recent years largely due to First Lady Michelle Obama’s advocacy on the issue.

Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

image: USDAgov

Jill Ettinger

Jill Ettinger is a Los Angeles-based journalist and editor focused on the global food system and how it intersects with our cultural traditions, diet preferences, health, and politics. She is the senior editor for sister websites OrganicAuthority.com and EcoSalon.com, and works as a research associate and editor with the Cornucopia Institute, the organic industry watchdog group. Jill has been featured in The Huffington Post, MTV, Reality Sandwich, and Eat Drink Better. www.jillettinger.com.