Agriculture Chairwoman Stabenow Applauds Investment to Bring Local Food to Michigan Schools

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, Chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, today applauded the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) announcement to award two Michigan schools with funding to implement innovative projects that will bring locally grown food to school cafeterias. This funding comes through USDA's Farm to School Program, which helps schools source healthy school foods like fruits, vegetables, meat and dairy. The Farm to School Program also educates students about how food grows through school garden programs and farm visits. Sen. Stabenow authored the 2014 Farm Bill, which was signed into law by President Obama earlier this year and significantly expands support for Michigan farmers by creating new opportunities to sell locally grown and organic products.

"Michigan sets the national standard when it comes to successfully feeding healthy meals to children," said Stabenow. "As I visit Michigan schools with local farm to table programs, I continue to be impressed to see students enjoying broccoli and pineapple from salad bars, while learning about how their food is grown. Farm to school programs give needed support to Michigan farmers, while educating and encouraging students to eat healthy. Whether it's teachers, students, parents or farmers, everybody wins when local food makes it to cafeterias close to where it has been grown and produced."

USDA's 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. These grants will also be used to support agriculture and nutrition education efforts such as school gardens, field trips to local farms, and cooking classes across the country.

Waterford School District and Detroit Public Schools will each receive a Farm to School Grant to implement two new programs. Waterford School District will use their funding to expand training for food service staff, educate district and community leaders about the importance of farm to school, and execute a farm to school plan with short-term and long-term goals.

John Silveri, Superintendent of Waterford School District: "We're grateful for this support from the USDA to help us build on the Farm to School foundation we have already laid. This will help our students learn lifelong lessons about nutrition and sustainable food sources, and it will support farmers and others in the agricultural field in the State of Michigan."

Detroit Public Schools will implement a training program to develop high tunnel growing and encourage general farm management. High tunnels, commonly called hoop houses, can be beneficial for farm to school programs because they protect fruits and vegetables from severe weather and can extend the growing season. Detroit Public Schools have been working with food distributors, farmers and other community leaders to serve high quality meals to approximately 50,000 school children every day.

Betti Wiggins, Executive Director of Detroit Public Schools, Office of School Nutrition: "This grant will help us continue our work to improve access to healthy foods for our students and community."