August 2017
Youth Matters

Local Food For Local Schools

Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries receives USDA grant to increase local foods in school cafeterias.

The Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries is pleased to announce they received a $100,000 support service grant that will positively impact school districts across the state. The ADAI organized state and community partners, including the Alabama Department of Education, the Foodbank of North Alabama/Farm Food Collaborative, the Alabama Farmers Federation, Feeding the Gulf Coast Food Bank, food hubs, Druid City Garden Project and EAT South, to create the Alabama Farm to School Collaborative.

The goal of the Alabama Farm to School Collaborative is to encourage schools to serve fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables to students, implement hands-on education in school gardens, and provide nutrition and agriculture education. This is one of 65 projects spanning 42 states and Puerto Rico receiving support this year through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm to School Grant Program, an effort to better connect school cafeterias and students with local specialty crop farmers.

"Increasing the amount of local foods in America’s schools is a win-win for everyone," U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said. "Our children benefit from the fresh, local food served in their meals at school, and local economies are nourished, as well, when schools buy the food they provide close to home."

Specific projects funded by the USDA grant include improvements to an online farmer aggregation database, technical training for child nutrition directors to increase local food purchases and statewide Farm to School promotion. Funding will also be used to develop standards-based curriculum encouraging students to eat fresh, nutritious produce and educate them about agriculture. The curriculum will include cooking lessons for locally grown vegetables using a cooking demonstration cart. The grant also aims to increase the number of farmers involved in the Farm to School program by providing farmers with food safety training and certification.

"The Alabama Farm to School Collaborative provides farmers an opportunity to develop relationships with the students in their local schools districts," ADAI Commissioner John McMillan commented. "Not only do the students enjoy locally grown food but now they can make a connection to the person who grew it for them."

For more information about the Alabama Farm to School Collaborative, please contact Andrea Carter by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 334-240-7247.