Montgomery, AL – The Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries (ADAI) is partnering with the Food Bank of North Alabama, Alabama Farmers Federation, Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) and local schools to increase access to Alabama-grown produce in school cafeterias. The Farm to School program is authorized under the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 and is funded in part by a $100,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded in 2014.
Commissioner John McMillan has asked Alabama Farmers Market Authority Director Don Wambles to coordinate the Farm to School program for ADAI. McMillan’s goal is to double the amount of farm fresh produce shipped to Alabama public schools. In the 2013-2014 school year, the Farm to School program spent a record $1.3 million on Alabama-grown fresh produce served in public school cafeterias.
“We have a plan to accomplish this goal, which will help farmers and school children throughout Alabama,” Wambles said. “Alabama school children eating local, fresh fruits and vegetables grown right here in our state is a win-win situation.”
Wambles said the partnership identified a three-step plan to expand Alabama’s Farm to School program. First, farmers who want to participate in the program must be identified through an online producer survey at http://www.alabamafresh.org/survey.html.
“It is critical for farmers to be ready to participate and also to be GAP (Good Agricultural Practices) certified or at least willing to become GAP certified,” he said.
The second step is to identify schools interested in participating.
“This will be done by working with the Child Nutrition Directors who coordinate food purchases and plan menus,” Wambles said.
The final step is to match farmers’ products with the schools’ needs. ALSDE has allocated $3 million for the purchase of fresh, locally grown produce. Additionally, schools may use their own funds to purchase from local farmers.
“It is our goal for the Farm to School program to ultimately utilize the entire $3 million allocation, so we can provide the best and freshest food to the students of Alabama,” Wambles said.
# # #
For more information contact Don Wambles at Don.Wambles@agi.alabama.gov or 334-240-7247