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PNS Daily Newscast - November 13, 2018. 


Californian’s now facing a pair of wildfires; Also on the Tuesday rundown: Higher education in New Jersey: a racial split; plus food resources still available despite the “public charge” proposal.

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Farms to School Food Links Growing Like a Weed

About a quarter million West Virginia students are fed in part through the farm-to-school program. (Pixibay)
About a quarter million West Virginia students are fed in part through the farm-to-school program. (Pixibay)
September 15, 2017

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Almost all West Virginia school districts get - or plan to get - food from local farms, and Congress may further boost the growing connection.

The Farm to School Act of 2017 would expand existing USDA Farm to School Grants to improve access.

Maximilian Merrill, the policy director for the National Farm to School Network explains it's a win-win: Farmers supply their food to schools and students learn about agriculture.

"Students participating in educational activities related to agriculture, food and nutrition and health - and school gardens, so students engage in hands-on learning through gardening so they understand where their food comes from and the difficulty it is to grow that healthy food," he explains.

The bill asks for funding to be increased annually from $5- to $15 million to better meet the demand for the program. According to the USDA, more than 80 percent of districts in the state take part, and another nine percent plan to.

State districts have invested more than $21 million in local food, helping to provide for about a quarter million students. The Farm to School Act of 2017 would enable that to include summer foodservice program sites and after-school programs, and encourage farm-to-school partnerships between tribal schools and tribal producers.

Merrill notes that the program helps boost farmers' bottom lines.

"In 2013-2014, that school year, there was $790 million in local foods purchased from farmers, ranchers and fishermen," he notes. "And if you look at the multiplying factor, that leads to over $1 billion pushed into the local economy."

The bill also would improve program participation from beginning, veteran and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - WV