October is National Farm to School Month, which was enacted by Congress last year. The concept centers around creating and promoting strong relationships between local farms and schools.
A national grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is meant to provide support for not just schools, but businesses and other institutions in promoting the use of locally-grown produce in their cafeterias. The latest school to take advantage of this healthy initiative is the University of Missouri. The state of Missouri has 78 school districts that use locally grown produce.
“We are trying to change policies and environments to make healthy choices easier for Missourians,” said Donna Mehrle, extension associate in the University of Missouri’s College of Human Environmental Sciences. “The goal is to give citizens access to nutritious foods and safe environments that promote physical activity.”
The movement has legs on a national level as well. All 50 states have at least one program in place and there are about 2,350 Farm-to-School programs across the U.S.
There are many benefits to promoting strong relationships between local farms and schools and businesses.
- You are supporting the local economy and giving more economic stability to local farmers.
- It can have a positive effect on the environment, one reason being that less fuel is used to transport food to your area.
- It’s been shown that foods grown locally are not only fresher, but more nutrient-dense than foods that need to be transported long distances.
- The food is often tastier! This helps show people that healthy food can also taste good, setting them up for long-term healthy eating habits.
(via: University of Missouri)