More states are incentivizing schools to buy local food

A growing number of states are reimbursing schools for buying locally grown and produced foods in an effort to improve children's diets while supporting local farmers. Before the pandemic, eight states and the District of Columbia had programs that subsidize local food purchases at schools — seven more states have added these programs since 2020.

Local and diverse can displace flavorless and generic in school food

The cafeteria menus in many public schools "suggest a universal idea of what constitutes American food," with tacos as an ethnic crossover, says Civil Eats. "Now, change is under way. Cafeterias have begun to incorporate ingredients like wild rice and buffalo and serve items ranging from poi to fajitas."

Locally-grown food available daily to 30 percent of schoolchildren

If they serve locally-sourced food at all, school districts are likely to serve it every day, say five economists who produced the first USDA study of the prevalence of local food in school meals. They said 19 percent of school districts serve at least one locally-sourced item daily, and because the districts tend to have large enrollments, 30 percent of all students have the option of local food.

Claim: Serving locally grown food boosts school-food popularity

Schools that serve locally grown food and that offer hands-on activities such as school gardens or cooking classes are likely to report higher participation in the school lunch program and less wasted food, says the USDA.

Farm-to-school programs grow in popularity

A review of activity at the state level shows growing support for farm-to-school programs, says a report by the National Farm to School Network.

House, Senate bills would triple farm-to-school program

Companion bills in the House and Senate would triple the funding, to $15 million a year, for the farm-to-school grant program, which buys locally grown fresh food to help feed schoolchildren.

USDA allots funds for advanced biofuel and Farm to School

A combined $9.6 million will go into grants to support production of advanced biofuels and the bio-economy, said the Agriculture Department. The largest block of money, $5.6 million, was divided among...

There’s no snag in adding yarn to the “buy local” campaign

Niche marketing to nearby customers is a practical outlet for thousands of smaller-scale farmers. In northwestern Colorado, yarn is being woven into the fabric of local entrepreneurship, says Harvest Public Media.

“A full-circle agriculture education”

The Bend-LaPine School District in central Oregon has one of the most comprehensive farm-to-school programs in the nation, with "students raising animals, butchering animals, and feeding a school meal program," writes Kerry Newberry at Civil Eats. Says the school district's wellness specialist Katrina Wiest, "It’s a full circle agriculture education experience.” The school district bought its own smoker to add flavor to the meat, which is served in the cafeterias.

Administration launches “Local Food, Local Places”

The Obama administration announced the "Local Food, Local Places" project to provide expert advice to rural communities to use local food systems as an engine for economic growth.

USDA comments on potential “Peace Corps” for agriculture

Last week, the Ag Insider reported AgSec Vilsack's comments on working with a nonprofit group on a potential mentoring project for beginning farmers.