Detroit Public Schools is pleased to announce that the district is among 82 projects spanning 42 states and the Virgin Islands receiving support this year through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farm to School Program, an effort to better connect school cafeterias and students with local farmers and ranchers. DPS received a $97,188 implementation grant to impact 62,000 students and their communities across three school districts and seven public school academies.
“USDA is proud to support communities across the country as they plan and implement innovative farm to school projects,” said USDA Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. “Community partners are coming together to ensure a bright and healthy future for students, and local farmers and ranchers. These inspiring collaborations create long-term benefits for students, as they develop a meaningful understanding of where food comes from, and support our farmers and ranchers by expanding market opportunities for local and regional foods.”
“This implementation grant not only will help to increase access to healthy foods for the students we serve and improve our local economy, but also further our mission to increase the number of opportunities for our students and families to engage in high-quality agri-science experiences,” said Jack Martin, Emergency Manager, Detroit Public Schools.
USDA Farm to School grants help schools respond to the growing demand for locally sourced foods and increase market opportunities for producers and food businesses, including food processors, manufacturers, and distributors. Grants will also be used to support agriculture and nutrition education efforts such as school gardens, field trips to local farms, and cooking classes.
Detroit Public Schools will use the implementation funds to improve training and the skill set of individuals who are growing food in extended growing hoop houses located on several school properties. Through existing partnerships with MSU Extension and the MSU Product Center, students and DPS Office of School Nutrition employees will learn the skills to grow specific vegetables year-round. These vegetables will be harvested and processed to be served in school cafeterias.
“The grant allows Detroit Public Schools to continue our efforts to deliver food system changes and to expand educational opportunities for our students by growing local foods year-round,” said Betti Wiggins, Executive Director, Office of School Nutrition. “Programs and services for students and their community must support what is done in the classroom. This grant also provides a tool to be used as DPS strives for academic excellence. It takes more than books for children to learn.”
USDA is focused on improving childhood nutrition and empowering families to make healthier food choices by providing science-based information and advice, while expanding the availability of healthy food. USDA’s Farm to School Program is part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, which authorized USDA to provide grants and technical assistance to help schools gain better access to local foods. For a complete list of fiscal year 2015 Farm to School grant recipients, please see: http://www.fns.usda.gov/farmtoschool/grant-awards