Montana Department of Agriculture Awarded USDA Farm to School Grant
Funding will help schools with procurement, distribution of local foods
Helena, Mont. – Producers and students throughout Montana have reason to celebrate, as the Montana Department of Agriculture (MDA) has been awarded a grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to enhance farm to school efforts throughout the state. MDA was awarded $99,980 and will partner with the National Center for Appropriate Technology and Montana Farm to School to increase the procurement and distribution of local food in K-12 schools in Montana.
“Farm to school initiatives continue to grow throughout Montana and this grant will build upon those efforts,” said Ben Thomas, Director of MDA. “When we can give our producers another market opportunity, while also providing our students with nutritious, local foods, everyone wins.”
The project will focus on three school districts in Montana: Browning, Fort Benton, and Malta. Each of these districts are in the early stages of implementing farm to school activities but have limited access to local foods. Sourcing and access to Montana foods is one of the key challenges to farm to school initiatives in Montana. The Montana Farm to School Leadership Team will research distribution opportunities and challenges on a statewide level while learning first-hand from the participating school districts. By coordinating with state-level farm to school partners, including supply-chain stakeholders, and bringing together local teams in each of the communities, the project will create a plan that will impact the entire state.
“By working with local-level teams in these communities, we expect to expand connectivity and distribution of local foods throughout the state, especially in north and eastern Montana,” said Aubree Roth, Montana Farm to School Coordinator, Montana Team Nutrition. “Our larger goal here is to take the lessons learned from this project, and scale it up so that we can better implement these activities on a state-wide level.”
The Montana Farm to School Leadership Team, sponsored by Montana Office of Public Instruction, works through partnerships across the state to build farm to school initiatives that help kids eat healthy, connect kids with agriculture and nutrition through education, support Montana farmers and food producers, foster economic vitality, and strengthen communities.
The Montana Department of Agriculture’s mission is to protect producers and consumers, and to enhance and develop agriculture and allied industries. For more information on the Montana Department of Agriculture, visit http://www.agr.mt.gov.
–Montana Department of Agriculture