USDA Awards Farm to School Grant to The Partnership for a
JACKSON, MS – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has awarded seventy-one (71) grants for projects in forty-two (42) states and the District of Columbia, including two projects in Mississippi. The projects chosen will support the USDA’s efforts to connect school cafeterias with local farmers and ranchers through its Farm to School Program. The Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi (The Partnership) is one of the awardees in Mississippi.
The Partnership’s project proposes to address these challenges by providing statewide coordination of farm to school activities in Mississippi and increasing farm to school capacity building efforts by providing training and technical assistance for key stakeholders. Successful implementation of this proposed project will result in the institutionalization of a farm to school program; increased knowledge as a result of information dissemination efforts, regional conferences, and educational booths at local farmers’ markets; and, an increase the number of schools and school districts that utilize small to mid-sized Mississippi farmers for fruit and vegetable purchases. The Partnership’s award amount is $90,000+ over a two-year grant cycle.
“This grant awarded by the USDA with further expand our efforts in our Health and Wellness Division which focuses on childhood obesity awareness and prevention,” stated Sandra Shelson, The Partnership’s Executive Director. “Farm to School is an important spoke in the wheel of obesity prevention, not only in Mississippi, but in the United States. We are looking forward to working with the Mississippi Departments of Agriculture and Commerce, Health, Education and many other partners throughout the state who know the importance of Farm to School in the fight to reduce childhood obesity in our state.”
“In rural and urban communities across the country, farm to school is teaching students where food comes from and how it gets to their plate, and encouraging them to make healthier food choices in the cafeteria and at home,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Farm to school programs are an investment in the health of our nation’s children and in the vibrancy of rural economies.”
The grant period began on December 2, 2013, and will conclude on November 30, 2015. “The Partnership is in the early stages of planning activities and identifying partners throughout the state to grow the Farm to School program. Our intentions are to also utilize programs that are currently in place including Food Day and Farm to School Week to promote our efforts around Farm to School,” Shelson concluded.
About USDA Farm to SchoolUSDA is focused on improving childhood nutrition and empowering families to make healthier food choices by providing science-based information and advice, while expanding the availability of healthy food. USDA's Farm to School Program is part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, which authorized USDA to provide grants and technical assistance to help schools gain better access to local foods. For a complete list of fiscal year 2014 Farm to School grant recipients, please see: http://www.fns.usda.gov/sites/default/files/FY_2014_Grant_Award_Summaries.pdf.
The mission of the Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi is to provide educational information and awareness about the impact of tobacco on Mississippi and to improve the culture of health in Mississippi by applying lessons learned in tobacco prevention to other leading causes of death and disease impacting our State and Nation.