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Farm-To-School Program Grows in Ohio

April 5, 2010

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Small and mid-size farmers, whose products have been largely absent from America's school lunch trays, are now offering Ohio children fresh, local and less-processed choices. Amalie Lipstreu with the Ohio Department of Agriculture says farm-to-school initiatives are popping up throughout the state and offering students a chance to learn where their food is grown.

"It can include things like a school garden, educational programs that integrate where food comes from with science. It could focus on procurement to try and get some local product into the schools."

Lipstreu says there are many benefits with farm-to-school programs.

"We're not having to transport food as far; it's supporting farmers that are close, and contributing to that whole sense of community viability; and it's an opportunity to get some wonderful, very healthful products into the schools."

Lipstreu says the program may seem overwhelming, but by tailoring it to their own needs, districts can make an easy transition.

"One of the things that's really important is that schools kind of start where they are, where there's interest, where they can get traction, and what relates to the resources they have available."

The Ohio Department of Agriculture is working with five districts to pilot farm-to-school programs in Coshocton, Carroll, Monroe, Tuscarawas and Washington Counties. The pilot is focusing on specialty crops, including fruits, vegetables, honey and tree nuts.

A resource guide to help districts and farmers learn more about the program is available on the department's Web site, www.agri.ohio.gov


Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH