Schools and producers are working to feed kids with local crops. A federal grant worth $24,158 helps educate stakeholders on the Farm to School movement. The project brings local ingredients to school food programs.
Farm to Table restaurants aim to bring local foods directly to diners. Schools have a similar program to connect students with products raised nearby.
Sandra Kangas is the South Dakota Department of Education’s director of Child and Adult Nutrition Services. She says Farm to School improves access to local foods.
"It could be somebody from school buying apples from a local applegrower or tomatoes," Kangas says. "There’s a variety of products they can purchase. In some instances, meat could be purchased."
Kangas says the program requires certain processing, and producers must meet specific guidelines for schools to buy their foods. She says a gathering in November connects stakeholders.
"The ones that are buying the food, the ones that are growing the food, the ones that are trying to figure out, okay, ‘I have food. I would like to sell it here.’ Or it could be a school saying, ‘You know, I would really like to buy some of my product locally,'" Kangas says.
Kangas says not all of the food for school lunches is grown locally or all year round. Still she says the program supports local farmers and ranchers.
National data show kids exposed to meals with local ingredients are more willing to try fruits and vegetables. It also shows Food to School increases the number of kids who eat healthy meals and reduces food waste.