Congressman Tim Ryan Announces Akron and Stark County Farm to School Grants

Dec 2, 2014 Issues: Helping Working Families, Education

Washington, D.C – Congressman Tim Ryan today is announcing two U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm to School Program grants for the Stark County Educational Service Center and the Akron City Schools. These grants are part of more than $5 million announced earlier today by Secretary Tom Vilsack for 82 projects in 42 states that support the USDA’s efforts to connect school cafeterias with local farmers.

“The Farm to School program will get more fruits and vegetables into our school districts, and I am proud to support these efforts by the USDA,” said Congressman Ryan. “Increasing the amount of fresh and local food in our schools is crucial for students to get enough to eat, and addresses our nation’s obesity and diabetes epidemics, especially in children.”

“USDA is proud to support communities across the country as they plan and implement innovative farm to school projects,” said Secretary Vilsack. “Community partners are coming together to ensure a bright and healthy future for students, and local farmers and ranchers. These inspiring collaborations create long-term benefits for students, as they develop a meaningful understanding of where food comes from, and support our farmers and ranchers by expanding market opportunities for local and regional foods.”

The Akron City Schools will receive $44,999 to establish a farm to school program to serve its 22,000 students. The goal is to increase the amount of fresh local fruits and vegetables to help improve students' health, quality of life and longevity. Curriculum will be developed to align with the concept of making healthy choices, the importance of eating locally grown foods, and the benefits that sustainable farming bring to people and the environment.

The Stark County Educational Service Center (Stark ESC) Center will receive $43,831for a school planning grant that will benefit the 36,554 students in its eight districts located in Stark County. Stark ESC is working with 12 participating school districts to connect food, farms, schools, and communities in a collaborative effort that establishes a consistent and sustainable plan for local foods procurement, nutrition, wellness, healthy choices, food system education, and community food literacy as part of its farm to school vision.

According to the USDA, school districts participating in farm to school programs purchased and served over $385 million in local food in the 2011-2012 school year. Collectively these policies and actions are helping to combat child hunger and obesity, while improving the health and nutrition of the nation's children.