USDA Sending $11.4 Million to Help Florida School Meal Programs Buy Local Foods

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) announced this week that it has reached an agreement with Florida which will send $11.4 million to the Sunshine State “to increase their purchase of nutritious, local foods for school meal programs.”

The funds from the Local Food for Schools Cooperative Agreement Program (LFS) will go to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ (FDACS) Division of Food, Nutrition and Wellness (FNW), which “will purchase and distribute local and regional foods and beverages for schools to serve children through the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs” and has “the goal of improving child nutrition and building new relationships between schools and local farmers.”

“This cooperative agreement supporting Florida 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 funds, the FDACS “will expand local and regional market access to Florida communities and provide students with the opportunity to consume more local, fresh fruits, vegetables, dairy products, proteins, and other eligible commodities.”

State Agriculture Nikki Fried applauded the USDA for sending the funds to Florida.

“Research is clear — students perform better when they have access to daily, nutritionally balanced meals, and this grant will further our ability to provide Florida’s world-renowned fresh, local commodities in our schools. Additionally, it is an opportunity to connect small, historically underserved producers with new market opportunities, creating a more sustainable and resilient food supply chain” said Fried. “I am grateful for our continued partnerships with USDA as we work together to feed our children, support our producers, and create a stronger food network for all Floridians.”

Kevin Derby
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