Murfreesboro City Schools (MCS) have announced that they are one of 82 projects across the United States receiving support this year through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Farm to School Program. The city schools received a $40,000 planning grant to increase the use of locally farmed food in school lunchrooms and to better connect school cafeterias and students with local farmers.
"We want to develop a blueprint that can be replicated across the county and state," explained Coordinator of School Health Meri-Leigh Smith. "Our aim is to consistently acquire locally or regionally sourced foods for our cafeterias and afterschool programs and make it the norm through Murfreesboro City Schools for our students to receive fresh, nutritious food since schools are a key place to develop healthy eating habits."
"This grant will allow us to grow together, not only seed to table, but also in knowledge of farming," added Sandy Scheele, Supervisor of Nutrition.
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USDA Farm to School grants will help MCS respond to the growing need within the school system to provide locally sourced foods. The recently received planning grant will be used to secure lasting partnerships with local farmers to supply fresh fruits and vegetables to schools and build capacity within the district to implement elements of a farm to school program into student learning. These funds once utilized will translate into nutritional education projects such as school gardens, greenhouses, cooking classes and consistently supplied fresh produce to MCS students.
MCS Farm to School Program will include a community advisory committee to assist the school with planning the program. The committee is comprised of Dr. Warren Gill, MTSU Ag Science, Tim Tipps, Farm Credit Mid America, Autumn Shultz, Murfreesboro Community Gardening, Dr. Elaina Vaught, MTSU Ag Science, LaShan Matthews, Rutherford County Health Department/Wellness Council, Misty Layne Watkins, UT-TSU Extension, Al Green, Key United Methodist Church and Janie Becker, UT-TSU Extension.
"USDA is proud to support communities across the country as they plan and implement innovative farm to school projects," said USDA Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. "Local farmers, ranchers and community partners are coming together to ensure a bright and healthy future for students. These collaborations create long-term benefits for students, as they develop a meaningful understanding of where food comes from and support our farmers and ranchers by expanding market opportunities for local and regional foods."
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 2015 Farm to School grant recipients, please see: http://www.fns.usda.gov/farmtoschool/grant-awards
For additional information, please call 893-2313 or visit www.cityschools.net. Murfreesboro City Schools is a district of twelve schools committed to the academic and personal success of each child.