Each year, Utah school and childcare centers serve over 88 million meals and snacks to children. As cost is a major barrier cited by both schools and farmers as to why more minimally processed Utah-grown fruits, vegetables, grains, and meat are not included in school meals, this program serves to overcome that barrier and increase access to fresh, locally grown foods. With this program, Utah joins ten other states offering a locally-grown incentive program for school meals including New Mexico, Colorado, Michigan, Oregon, Minnesota, and New York.
“Farm-to-school programs and incentives such as this are a win for all involved," said Craig Buttars, UDAF Commissioner. "Children are able to receive nutritious, fresh produce and develop a stronger connection with agriculture, and producers are able to access a large, consistent market, and the economic benefits strengthen local economies in urban and rural areas alike.
“Utah’s farms and school food programs both often operate on shoestring budgets, making it difficult for schools to consistently purchase local food and develop strong relationships with Utah farmers," said Kathleen Britton, USBE Director of Chid Nutrition. "Programs By providing extra funds to schools that purchase Utah-grown products, we make it possible to pay farmers fair market value for their food and for schools to provide fresh nutritious meals to as many students as possible.”