OTTUMWA— Ottumwa Schools will be participating in a state-wide celebration to serve locally sourced food on October 11.
The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship received a $100,000 Farm-to-School Support Services Grant from the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) to host an Iowa Local Food Day on October 11 as part of National Farm-to-School month.
Yvonne Johnson, Director of Food & Nutrition Services “signed up immediately for participation in this effort. Johnson wants to emphasize the importance of knowing where your food comes from. “Iowa farms play a very important role in our daily lives,” she said. “The best, most nutritious foods are grown and produced right here, and consumed right here, and that is important for the children and families in Ottumwa to know.”
The district is featuring honey procured from Iowa apiaries (beekeepers), milk from Iowa dairies, sweet potatoes from Iowa vegetable farms, pork from Iowa pork producers, and apples from Iowa orchards.
“We continue to see growing interest from both the schools and the farmers in incorporating locally grown produce in school meals,” said Mike Naig, Iowa Deputy Secretary of Agriculture. “We are excited to get this additional funding to help scale-up efforts focused on increasing the amount of locally grown food served in school breakfasts and lunches. This food day celebration will help prepare growers to sell to schools and assist schools in accessing locally grown items.”
The grant funding will allow the Department to build a support network for interested schools. Funds will assist in: helping schools use local foods; aiding food service directors in making local procurements; working with growers interested in selling produce to schools; partnering with Summer Food Service Programs (SFSP) as a starting point for farmers to work with schools; and allowing Farm-to-School activities to expand beyond fruits and vegetables.