Home Virginia DOE, regional food hubs deliver $2.1M in locally grown food to schools
Schools, Virginia

Virginia DOE, regional food hubs deliver $2.1M in locally grown food to schools

Rebecca Barnabi
school lunch
(© Monkey Business – stock.adobe.com)

The Centralized Local Procurement Pilot Program is designed to strengthen regional food systems and avoid supply chain disruptions.

The program is funded through a U.S. Department of Agriculture Supply Chain Assistance grant.

The Virginia Department of Education, Office of School Nutrition Programs partnered with two regional Virginia food hubs to deliver $2.1 million dollars of locally grown and raised food products to school nutrition programs in the Commonwealth.

“We know that students learn best when they start the day with nutritious breakfasts. We also know that Virginia communities thrive when schools connect students to locally grown food,” Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction Lisa Coons said.

In Virginia, 54 school divisions ordered local agricultural products through Virginia regional food hubs, 4P Foods and Appalachian Sustainable Development. The variety of local foods included fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables, chicken and beef.

“We are continuously developing innovative strategies to support school nutrition programs and we are proud to be the only state in the nation to utilize this USDA funding opportunity,” VDOE Office of School Nutrition Director Sandy Curwood said. “Our office maintains its commitment to ensure every Virginia student has access to freshly prepared, nutritious, locally sourced, and culturally inclusive meals.”

The VDOE Office of School Nutrition Programs is working on an impact analysis of the program and plans to extend the program for an additional year.

“The CLPPP has been transformative for our local food system,” partner food hub 4P Foods Founder and CEO Tom McDougall said. “Not only is it good for the farmers and students, it’s also good for our environmental footprint, the nutrient density of the food, the economic opportunity for our farming communities, the resiliency of our supply chains, and so much more.”

Amy Carwile is with Archlynn Farm in Charlotte County.

“I am so excited to be a farmer involved with the farm to school initiative,” she said. “I am passionate about growing fresh, wholesome produce, and that Virginia’s children are the recipient of some of that hard work is an encouragement. In addition, sales are the lifeblood of any farming operation and increased revenue streams at fair and equitable price points are always meaningful and appreciated.”

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.

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