USDA Expands Local Foods in School Meals through Cooperative Agreement with Utah
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) announced it has signed a cooperative agreement with Utah for more than $1.9 million to increase their purchase of nutritious, local foods for school meal programs.
Through the Local Food for Schools Cooperative Agreement Program (LFS), the Utah State Board of Education (USBE) will purchase and distribute local and regional foods and beverages for schools to serve children through the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs. These products will be healthy and unique to their geographic area, with the goal of improving child nutrition and building new relationships between schools and local farmers.
“This cooperative agreement supporting Utah schools is another example of how USDA is working to build a more resilient food system rooted in local and regional production,” said USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Jenny Lester Moffitt. “The Local Food for Schools Cooperative Agreement Program provides an opportunity for states to strengthen ties between local farmers, ranchers, food businesses and schools, and gives students access to nutritious foods unique to the area they live in, building stronger connections across local communities.”
“Strengthening relationships between local producers and schools is a long-term strategy to ensure our children always have access to nutritious foods in school, a win-win for child health and American agriculture,” said Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services Stacy Dean. “Through this program and many other efforts to support the school meal programs, USDA is committed to giving schools the tools they need to set children up to learn, grow, and thrive.”
With the LFS funds, USBE will support Utah’s small ranchers, local meat producers and processors by procuring competitive programs. This project will allow Utah meat producers the opportunity to explore new market channels and build relationships with new buyers, while helping schools improve meal quality with healthy, locally produced protein.
“The Utah State Board of Education is excited to expand markets for our state’s farmers and offer more nutritious, locally-produced foods to our students,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Sydnee Dickson. “Parents can rely on the National School Lunch Program to provide a healthy lunch for their students. Now they can also know that they are helping Utah’s farmers at the same time.”
The LFS cooperative agreements will allow organizations the flexibility to design food purchasing programs and establish partnerships with farmers and ranchers that best suit their local needs, accommodate environmental and climate conditions, account for seasonal harvests, improve supply chain resiliency and meet the needs of schools within their service area.
Additionally, the program will provide more opportunities for historically underserved producers and processors to sell their products. The Local Food for Schools Cooperative Agreement Program is authorized by the Commodity Credit Corporation Charter Act. AMS looks forward to continuing to sign agreements under this innovative program.
More information on how the Utah Department of Ag will facilitate this cooperate agreement will be available in the future.
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