FRANKFORT, Ky. (June 25, 2018) — The Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s (KDA) Farm to School Program was awarded a $99,913 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to expand its efforts to help Kentucky schools serve local foods to their students.
“This funding will put more focus on equipping farmers and food producers to sell their products to Kentucky schools,” Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles said. “Tina Garland and Bill Wickliffe, who head the program for the KDA, have made it a national model. Congratulations to them for earning this grant for this important and popular program.”
KDA will use the grant to provide two major regional training events for farmers and school food service authorities and issue 10 mini-grants for additional training, equipment, and other needs to enable farmers to develop or enhance their farm-to-school marketing efforts.
Louisville/Jefferson County Metro Government was awarded a $100,000 grant to increase access to local foods for Jefferson County Public Schools students and their families through its Farm to Table Program and The Food Literacy Project at Oxmoor Farm.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on Thursday announced that it awarded a total of 73 grants that will serve more than 6,006 schools and 2.8 million students nationwide.
The KDA’s Farm to School Program helps connect Kentucky school systems with local farmers and small businesses. Kentucky schools spent nearly $8.9 million on local food products in 2013-14. More than 700 schools in 77 Kentucky school districts had programs in place to buy local Kentucky foods for their school cafeterias, according to the 2015 Farm to School Census compiled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Many students take part in planting school gardens, visiting farms and turning the cafeteria into a classroom.
The Farm to School Program runs the annual Junior Chef competition, in which high school culinary teams compete for scholarships and the coveted skillet trophy awarded to the state champion team. Launched by the KDA in 2013, the competition teaches valuable skills in recipe development, food preparation, marketing, public presentation, organization, teamwork and community involvement while educating students about the importance of local foods and agriculture. This year’s regional champions will compete at the Kentucky State Fair in August in Louisville.
USDA’s Southeast Region office used Kentucky’s Junior Chef competition as the model for the first Southeast Region Junior Chef Competition in May in Louisville. Montgomery County High School, the Kentucky state champion in 2016 and 2017, came in second.
For more information about the Kentucky Junior Chef Program, go to kyagr.com/junior-chef.
For more information about the Farm to School program, go to the Farm to School page on the KDA’s website, kyagr.com.