Vermont Farm to School gets big boost

NEWS RELEASE– Vermont Community Foundation and VT Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets
December 13, 2012

CONTACTS
Carolyn Fox
The Vermont Community Foundation
(802) 388-3355 x285, [email protected]

Alison Kosakowski
VT Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets
(802) 828-2179; 272-4547 [email protected]

(MILTON, VT) Leaders in Vermont’s Farm to School efforts visited Milton Middle School cafeteria today to announce a major new commitment of federal, state, and private funding that will help Farm to School programs expand in every county in Vermont.

Complementary grant programs from the USDA, the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, the Vermont Community Foundation, and the Vermont Department of Health will total over half a million dollars for this effort. The funding for farmers and producers, public schools, nonprofits, and businesses statewide will: 1) integrate local food into Vermont cafeterias, classrooms, and communities; 2) link farmers with institutional buyers to expand year-round use of Vermont products; 3) improve processing and distribution hubs to meet the increasing demand for locally-grown products; and 4) expand successful programs to underserved parts of Vermont.

“Focusing on our schools offers an enormous opportunity to test a range of innovative programs that help reach food-insecure Vermonters,” said Vermont Community Foundation President & CEO Stuart Comstock-Gay. “What we learn here will lay the groundwork for establishing a food system that opens new markets to farmers and can expand to fit the needs of other institutions that want to purchase Vermont-grown products year-round.”

Megan Camp represented VT FEED (Food Education Every Day), one of the funding recipients. She explained the support will help Vermont schools meet the 3 “C’s” of comprehensive Farm to School programs: local food in cafeterias, food education in classrooms, and connections with the community.

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture announced $75,000 in funding for its 2013 Farm to School grantees and $40,000 in funding for its 2012 Vermont Local Food Market Development Grants (see separate list.) While the first category goes directly to schools, the Market grants are intended to increase Vermont producers’ access to institutional markets and the quantity of local food available in Vermont institutions. This funding complements the $100,000 USDA federal grant received by the Vermont Agency of Agriculture for Vermont food hubs, which was recently announced by Senator Leahy, along with Senator Sanders and Representative Welch.

“Since 2006, the Agency of Agriculture has worked with partners across Vermont to create a nationally-renowned Farm to School program. Our model has been replicated by other states, and on the federal level,” said Chuck Ross, Secretary of the Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets. “Thanks to these expanded resources, the Farm to School program in Vermont will continue to grow, creating new and important opportunities for local farmers, and providing more students with nutritious, wholesome foods.”

Steve Marinelli, Food Service Director for the Milton Town School District, explained how the new grant will help provide training to teachers and food service workers in preparing local food and adapting food-based lessons in the classroom. Kate Stockman of Green Heron Farm said the grant would help her connect with institutional purchasers in Vermont so more of her products reach local families.

The Vermont Department of Health is funding Farm to School through an $80,000 grant program aimed at improving nutrition, healthy lifestyle, and food education in Vermont schools.

The Vermont Community Foundation awarded over $284,000 in grants as part of the launch of its new Food and Farm Initiative, which was established to support farmers and others who want to help families put nutritious, local food on the table regardless of where they live, what they earn, or how much they cook. Other foundations and Community Foundation fundholders, including Lyman Orton, partnered with the Foundation in awarding the grants. Through research, grants, and investments—and in partnership with funders and providers across the state—the Vermont Community Foundation will help Vermont develop a nationally-recognized food system that sustains local farmers and creates healthy communities for all Vermonters.

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The Agency of Agriculture works to facilitate, support and encourage the growth and viability of Vermont agriculture while protecting the working landscape, human, animal and plant health and the environment. Visit www.vermontagriculture.com for more information.

The Vermont Community Foundation is a family of hundreds of funds and foundations established by Vermonters to serve their charitable goals. It provides the advice, investment vehicles, and back-office expertise to make giving easy and inspiring. The Foundation also provides leadership in giving by responding to community needs and keeping Vermont’s nonprofit sector vital. Together, its funds and programs provide more than $12 million a year in grants and other investments in Vermont. Visit www.vermontcf.org or call 802-388-3355 for more information.

 

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