Monday, September 21, 2009

Farm-to-school movement gaining momentum in rural communities, despite regulatory obstacles

The effort of farmers to sell crops to local schools is complicated by government school-lunch regulations, Christen Gowan of the Albany Times-Union reports, but is steadily increasing in popularity in New York state. Peter Ten Eyck of Indian Ladder Farms tells Gowan that business to local schools has remained steady since the local-food movement gained momentum, but lunch regulations, transportation and coordinating deliveries remain obstacles to getting his apples to schools.

The Hudson Mohawk Resource Conservation and Development Program has released a 30-page guide for farmers looking to sell their produce to local schools called "From Farm to School." The guide informs farmers of the regulations they need to comply with and what schools are looking to begin local foods programs. School lunch directors see the move as a positive, but costly one. "We have such wonderful farm land around us," Margaret Lamb, school lunch program director for Saratoga Springs City School District, tells Gowan. "It seems like such a simple choice to make." (Read more)

Last week schools in Maryland participated in the "Homegrown School Lunch Week" program for the second consecutive year. Cafeterias in all 24 Maryland school districts served fruit, vegetables, breads, meats and cheeses from local farms. We reported earlier this month that the Ridgeway Area Schools in Pennsylvania were hosting a "farmer's market day."

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