On Tuesday, December 2nd, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack — one of The Daily Meal’s 50 Most Important People in Food for 2014 — announced that more than $5 million in funds would be made available for projects across 42 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands that will help local schools to connect with local farmers through the USDA’s Farm to School Program.
“The program helps schools purchase more food from local farmers and ranchers in their communities, expanding access to healthy local food for school children and supporting local economies,” the USDA announced in a press release.
“According to USDA's first-ever Farm to School Census released earlier this year, school districts participating in farm to school programs purchased and served over $385 million in local food in school year 2011-2012, with more than half of participating schools planning to increase their purchases of local food in the future.”
More than 4,800 schools and 2.8 million students, nearly 51 percent of whom live in rural communities, will be able to participate in the program.
"[The] USDA is proud to support communities across the country as they plan and implement innovative farm to school projects," said Vilsack. "These inspiring collaborations provide students with healthy, fresh food, while supporting healthy local economies. Through farm to school projects, community partners are coming together to ensure a bright future for students, and for local farmers and ranchers."
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Karen Lo is an associate editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @appleplexy.