FORT WAYNE, IND. – Oct. 10, 2019 – Parkview Health has received a $34,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to plan a Farm to School program with area school districts.
USDA’s Farm to School grants fund school districts, state and local agencies, Indian tribal organizations, agricultural producers and non-profit organizations in their efforts to increase local foods served through child nutrition programs, and teach children about food and agriculture through garden and classroom education.
Farm to School initiatives are unique to each participating entity, and the planning grant allows recipients to explore how they could best implement a program in their area. Parkview’s Youth Well-Being team will work with at least five area school districts to develop a comprehensive, regional Farm to School plan for northeast Indiana. School districts currently include Northwest Allen County Schools, East Allen County Schools, Metropolitan School District of Steuben County, Garrett-Keyser-Butler Community School District and Lakeland Schools (LaGrange County).
“This program is a great opportunity to not only teach students about healthy foods available in their area, but also bring those foods right into their school,” said Kylee Bennett, Youth Well-Being coordinator, Parkview Health. “This program is a natural extension of our relationships with local school districts and will allow us to make a deeper impact on the health of children in our communities. We are grateful for the opportunity to create a program that will help local schools connect with local farmers.”
Bennett explained that the Farm to School program supports Parkview’s mission to improve health and inspire well-being in the communities it serves. A regional Farm to School program could potentially address student nutrition habits, increase access to fruits and vegetables, improve household food security, enhance overall academic achievement, and even support positive changes in the diets and lifestyles of school teachers and staff.
School district representatives said they are also excited for the opportunity to create a Farm to School program.
“The initiative proposed by Parkview is an excellent fit for Northwest Allen County Schools, in that, we have an agricultural program at Carroll High School that is outstanding, the participation of our students in FFA and 4-H is strong, and our growing culinary arts classes have received state recognition,” said Gloria Shamanoff, assistant superintendent, Northwest Allen County Schools. “With this foundation in place, the Farm to School initiative is a perfect extension to what opportunities are already available to our students. We are grateful that the Parkview family asked us to join the initiative.”
“Farm to School provides the opportunity to support local agriculture while nourishing the students in our care. We are able to promote a variety of fresh and local commodities while laying the path to good nutrition and eating habits,” said Stephanie Haynes-Clifford, food service director, Metropolitan School District of Steuben County. “All individuals involved with Child Nutrition are passionate about their students and their success. They are our future.”
For the 2019-20 school year, the USDA awarded 126 Farm to School grants, totaling more than $9 million, that will serve more than 5,400 schools and 3.2 million students – 63 percent of whom are eligible for free or reduced-price meals.
This project has been funded at least in part with Federal funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The contents of this publication do not necessarily reflect the view or policies of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government. USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.