The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently announced the projects selected to receive the USDA’s annual farm to school grants designed to increase the amount of local foods served in schools. Sixty-five projects were chosen nationwide, and two are in South Carolina – Spartanburg County School District Six and Dorchester District Two.
“Increasing the amount of local foods in America’s schools is a win-win for everyone,” said Cindy Long, Deputy Administrator for Child Nutrition Programs at USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service, which administers the Department’s school meals programs. “Farm to school projects foster healthy eating habits among America’s school-age children, and local economies are nourished, as well, when schools buy the food they provide from local producers.”
Spartanburg County School District Six (SD6) is being awards $100,000 to implement a sustainable food production and a student internship program at Cragmoor Farms. SD6 farm produces fruits and vegetables as well as beef cattle. Hydroponic production in the greenhouse will augment farm grown produce and the composting program will teach students about food waste and allow the district to produce its own compost at the farm.
Dorchester District Two is being awarded $74,540 to implement food production at Fox Farm, Using 200 students currently enrolled in agriculture courses at Ashley Ridge High School, Fox Farm will expand its growing area from 3/4 acres to four acres to increase its annual production of fresh fruits and vegetables to serve all twenty-four schools in Dorchester District Two.
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, such as 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.