Governor McAuliffe announces USDA funding for two programs connecting Virginia schools, farmers

farm-droughtGovernor Terry McAuliffe on Monday announced that Virginia was selected for two USDA awards that will help connect Virginia agricultural producers with school systems statewide. The awards include a USDA grant for Virginia’s Farm-to-School program, as well as a USDA pilot program that will enable Virginia schools to purchase locally grown produce for their school meal programs.

“By collaborating with partners like the USDA, we can increase our momentum toward building a new Virginia economy,” said Governor Terry McAuliffe. “These awards will support local agriculture economies while helping our efforts to bridge the nutritional divide. I’m pleased that Virginia communities, schools, families and children will benefit from these programs.”

“These USDA awards bring fresh, nutritious Virginia products to our students and support local producers,” said First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe. “I look forward to working with the Commonwealth Council on Bridging the Nutritional Divide, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and our other partners on these programs that will help solve childhood hunger in the Commonwealth.”

USDA Farm-to-School Conference Grant

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) was awarded a USDA Farm-to-School Conference and Event grant of $20,750 for a statewide Farm-to-School Conference, scheduled for March 2015. Virginia has embraced the farm-to-school effort since 2007, when the General Assembly passed a House Joint Resolution requesting that partner organizations work toward advancing farm-to-school initiatives in the Commonwealth. Through marketing and education, including organizing Virginia’s annual Farm-to-School Week, the state has made successful strides to help connect fresh, healthful food from local farms to schools.

This USDA grant provides the opportunity to increase the number of Virginia school systems incorporating Virginia Grown products into school menus, while at the same time encouraging reliable, ongoing markets to support Virginia’s agricultural economy. Conference education programs will feature procurement training, capacity building, supply chain distribution, food safety, school gardens and nutrition education. The conference will provide a venue to showcase, network and inspire professionals who are involved in nourishing Virginia students and incorporating Farm-to-School programs in schools. Information on Virginia’s Farm-to-School program is available on the VDACS’ website, and conference information will be posted as details are finalized.

In addition to VDACS’ grant, the USDA awarded two other Farm-to-School grants in Virginia. Appalachian Sustainable Development in Abingdon was awarded a grant of $99,179 to increase the flow of local produce into three local school systems in southwest Virginia and northeast Tennessee. In addition, Pulaski County Public Schools will receive a $43,415 grant to develop a Farm-to-School initiative in their district.

More information about these grants is available in the USDA’s press release.


USDA Pilot Project

Virginia was one of eight states selected by the USDA to participate in the Pilot Project for Procurement of Unprocessed Fruits and Vegetables, as directed by the Agricultural Act of 2014, also known as the Farm Bill. Under the pilot, Virginia school systems will be able to increase locally grown fruits and vegetables in their school meal programs.

Virginia schools receive approximately $24 million each year through the USDA’s National School Lunch Program, which provides nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free lunches to children each school day. This funding allocation is used to purchase USDA Foods from a list of 180 products including fruits, vegetables, lean meats, fish, poultry, rice, low fat cheese, beans, pasta, flour and other whole grain products. The pilot program will allow Virginia to use some of the state’s USDA Foods allocation to purchase unprocessed fruits and vegetables directly, instead of going through the USDA Foods program.

This pilot is designed to support the schools’ pre-existing relationships with vendors, growers, produce wholesalers and distributors while increasing the use of locally grown, unprocessed fruits and vegetables in school meal programs. Although the pilot does not require sourcing locally grown foods, the project will enable schools to increase their use of fresh, in-season Virginia produce.

More information about this pilot is available in the USDA’s press release.

augusta free press
augusta free press news

UVA Basketball Fans!

uva basketball team of destiny
Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, by Jerry Ratcliffe and Chris Graham, is available for $25. The book, with additional reporting by Zach Pereles, Scott Ratcliffe, and Scott German, will take you from the aftermath of the stunning first-round loss to UMBC in 2018 through to the thrilling overtime win over Texas Tech to win the 2019 national title, the first in school history.

Dick Vitale on Team of Destiny: “This is a hoops story you will LOVE! Jerry and Chris capture the sensational and dramatic championship journey by Tony Bennett and his tenacious Cavalier team. UVA was Awesome Baby and so is this book!”

Ralph Sampson on Team of Destiny: “Jerry and Chris have lived and seen it all, even before my time. I highly recommend this book to every basketball fan across the globe. This story translates to all who know defeat and how to overcome it!”

Buy here.

AFP Business

As professional consultants, Augusta Free Press LLC provides clients in the Shenandoah Valley and Central Virginia and beyond with marketing and PR solutions including website design, SEO, TV/radio, video work, branding and logos, social media and overall marketing campaign design and implementation. Augusta Free Press LLC was founded in 2002.

Web Design

Augusta Free Press has designed more than 800 websites for clients in the Shenandoah Valley and Central Virginia. We take care of all facets of web design – visual design, layout design, content development and SEO. Short on staff? We’ll work with you to update your AFP-designed website in a timely manner or train your staff to make changes.

Marketing/Social Media Management

Augusta Free Press manages advertising campaigns for small- and medium-sized businesses across Virginia. You don’t need to hire a full-time marketing coordinator. Bring the experience of the Augusta Free Press team to work for you – for a fraction of the cost.

Graphic Design

Augusta Free Press will help you take your vision to the next level. From branding and logos to print materials, our team will work with you to develop products to showcase your business. From brochures and rack cards to full-color magazines or print/digital ads, we’ve got you covered.

Event Planning/Fundraising

Augusta Free Press will help you plan the best event for your organization. From an open house or anniversary to a 5K or Pay Per View, we can handle it all. Looking for training for your sales staff? We can help energize your employees or board. Need ideas to raise more money? Let us help you plan a successful event. Want to hold a news conference or need help with a press release? We can do that too.

Click here for more.