Farm to School program looks for growth
When the 2019 session convenes next month, Minnesota legislators will hear about the success of farm-to-school programs and how they could be improved with a centralized approach and additional state funding. By relying on locally sourced food, small farms sell their crops, the local economy benefits and kids eat better, according to Erin McKee with the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy.
She says in the past sixteen years, the number of Minnesota school districts embracing farm-to-school has grown from six to 268. "There are farm-to-school and farm-to-early-care programs happening all around the state, and rural areas are where many of our farmers are and we have some of the most innovative work going on in rural districts and early-care environments as well."
McKee would like to see Minnesota adopt a program similar to those in Oregon and Michigan, where school districts are reimbursed when they procure local food. The Institute also wants funding for a position in the education or agriculture department that would be a centralized resource for schools. A bill introduced in 2017 was approved by three committees, but was not part of the final budget.