November 2012


This week USDA announced its first round of USDA Farm to School Grantees, totaling $4.5 million in grants for 68 projects, spanning 37 states and the District of Columbia. These grants will support programs that are increasing access to local foods for 1.75 million students in more than 3,200 schools across the country.

In Massachusetts, Boston Public Schools is one of three projects receiving Farm to School funding from USDA.  Congratulations to the MA Farm to School Project and Ezra H. Baker Elementary School (West Dennis, MA)!

The BPS Farm to School Initiative is excited about this opportunity to take farm to school to the next level in Boston! BPS has significantly increased access to local produce through Local Lunch Thursdays in our full kitchen cafeterias over the past few years.  The next step is to make sure students, parents, and teachers know that these healthy options are available and to get them excited about trying these local veggies on the lunch line.  This grant will support the BPS Farm to School Initiative’s efforts in engaging students with the locally grown produce in the cafeteria and connecting with existing school-based educational resources (i.e. school gardens, wellness councils, etc.) and community partners to provide farm field trips, culinary training and much more. Stay tuned for more details about the BPS Farm to School Initiative this year!

Also f you’d like to learn about the other projects that are being funded check out the USDA website.

The USDA Farm to School Grants are a result of The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (HHFKA) that amended Section 18 of the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act (NSLA) to establish a Farm to School program to assist eligible entities, through grants and technical assistance, in implementing farm to school programs that improve access to local foods in eligible schools.

 Farm to School is one component of USDA’s Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative, launched in 2009 to coordinate the Department’s work on local and regional food systems and create new opportunities for farmers, ranchers, consumers and rural communities.

Students at 32 Boston schools are creatively expressing themselves in a School Breakfast Poster Contest this week (Nov 12-16), using the themes:  “My Favorite Breakfast” or “How I Feel When I Have Had a Really Good Breakfast”.

The Contest is supported through a Fuel Up to Play 60 grant which was awarded to Boston Public Schools to increase student participation in eating healthy breakfasts.  The goal of the Contest is to build interest among students to eat breakfast at school, especially this year, which is the first time that school breakfast is free to all Boston students.

For the Contest, students receive entry forms, color pencils and color markers in their cafeterias to make their posters, any time during the week.  Winning art entries will be awarded gift cards in amounts of $25, $15, and $10.  Additionally, $25 $15 & $10 gift cards will be randomly awarded to students from all entries at each school.  Principals, wellness champions and others in each school are serving as judges.

The School Lunch Boston blog will display the winning entries once the judging is completed!

In the fall issue of Edible Boston, Boston Public Schools is featured in this article by Susan McCrory about locally grown produce on the lunch line.  The article looks at Boston, Arlington, Concord, Lynn and Framingham public schools’ efforts to bring local produce into school cafeterias and discusses some of the challenges of using seasonal produce on the lunch line, getting kids to try new items, having a limited amount time during the school day to feed and educate students about what’s on the line, while also working within a tight budget.

McCrory big take away is that:

There is more than one challenge in implementing the Farm to School model for Massachusetts Food Service Directors. But, the overarching need is to bring together good-food education with demand and supply in a way that is sustainably profitable for all parties…We must be realistic: America is never going to return to being a fully agrarian society. Instead, you just keep innovating and making things work since, in the optimistic words of Alden Cadwell, “anything is possible.”

In Boston we’re making local food possible on the lunch line each week with Local Lunch Thursdays.  Look out for the locally grown coleslaw (cabbage and carrots) and roasted carrots on the lunch line tomorrow in cafeteria schools across the city!

To learn more about what other districts are doing to bring local produce to their cafeterias check out the rest of Susan McCrory’s article at here.