Local farms help improve students’ health

WASHINGTON — Fall is harvest season, of course. And it’s also the time of year that many students are once again connected with area farms that are responsible for producing of some of the food they’re eating.

Lean Plate Club™ blogger Sally Squires says the 10-year-old National Farm to School Network reaches 23 million students in all 50 states and the District through nearly 43,000 schools. Its goal is to improve children’s health and strengthen family farms.

She said the program is helping to provide fresh locally-grown food to be served more often in schools. A study conducted by Colorado State University is analyzing the possible economic impact of this program. Preliminary evidence suggests that students are benefiting from having more locally grown produce in schools.

In addition, the “Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools” program, which was started by former First Lady Michelle Obama and donated equipment to schools to offer salad bars, reports that 78 percent of schools are now purchasing more fruits and vegetables for salad bars that are used daily.

“All of the results are not yet in, but for farmers and local communities there seems to be a multiplier effect,” Squires said.

“We are helping farmers to have access to new markets for their produce. And when you help farmers, then you help others in that community as well.”

Squires says that each day the National School Lunch Program is feeding 30 million children and spending nearly 13 billion dollars annually. So it’s important to find cost efficiencies to deliver quality food to students in schools.

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