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Farm-to-school federally funded

December 8, 2014
By staff , Lake Placid News

The Saranac Lake and Lake Placid central school districts jointly received a $44,754 grant this week from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The USDA's Farm to School program awarded the grant with the intention of getting more children to eat foods produced by local farmers. It is expected to change the lunch menus for more than 2,000 students across the Tri-Lakes school districts.

"We are extremely excited to start the work that will allow us to create connections between classrooms, cafeterias, communities and local farms," Ruth Pino, Saranac Lake's food service director and director of the Adirondack Farm to School Initiative, wrote in a press release. "We believe that through growing, harvesting and preparing nutritious foods, children gain confidence, develop critical thinking skills, feel a sense of power over their own health, and can impact family purchasing, cooking and eating patterns."

The Saranac Lake and Lake Placid school districts will use the grant funds to implement new procurement policies that reflect the goal of having at least 15 percent of their cafeterias' produce come from local sources. Part of that means acquiring equipment needed to preserve produce so it is available each school year, and developing a plan to integrate educational curriculum, school gardens, nutrition and school cafeteria offerings.

USDA Farm to School grants are used to support agriculture and nutrition education efforts such as school gardens, field trips to local farms and cooking classes.

The Adirondack Farm to School Initiative includes community participation from Paul Smith's College, North Country Healthy Heart Network, Adirondack North Country Association, the Wild Center and garden club and food service representatives from area school districts.

USDA's Farm to School Program is part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.

"USDA is proud to support communities across the country as they plan and implement innovative farm to school projects," U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said in a press release. "Community partners are coming together to ensure a bright and healthy future for students, local farmers and ranchers. These inspiring 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."



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