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More Fresh Produce Being Served in Michigan School Meals
March 6, 2012
LANSING - The demand has grown and Michigan school districts are using more fresh produce in their school meals, the Michigan Department of Education reported today.
Michigan is utilizing $2.55 million in federal funds this school year to purchase fresh produce, of which nearly 50 percent is grown here in Michigan, compared to $1.85 million allocated in previous years.
The Fresh Produce program, funded through the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) in coordination with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Foods program, offers schools a wider variety of fresh produce than would normally be available through USDA purchases. There currently are 869 public and private school districts in Michigan participating in the DoD Fresh Produce program.
"Schools are clamoring for fresh produce to serve to their students," said state Superintendent of Public Instruction Mike Flanagan. "This program helps provide the means to bring fresh food into our school breakfast and lunch programs."
Flanagan explained that the greater demand is indicative that schools are serving more fruits and vegetables to their students, even though the federally-required improvements to school meal menus don't take effect until the 2012-13 school year.
"I am very proud of our local food service directors leading the way in directing our students to healthier eating," he said.
USDA Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Kevin Concannon said the USDA is pleased to partner with the Department of Defense to enable Michigan schools to have greater access to fresh produce.
"That so much of the produce was sourced locally in Michigan is a win for everyone ? students, local farmers, and rural economies," Concannon said. "Improving the health and nutrition of our kids is a national imperative and by providing schools with fresh fruits and vegetables that expand their healthy options, we are helping our kids to have a brighter, healthier future. Every time our kids eat a piece of fruit or a vegetable, they are learning healthy eating habits that can last a lifetime."
Schools obtain fresh fruits and vegetables through this program to offer to students with their school breakfast and lunch meals. The most popular fresh produce used through this program include: apples, carrots, oranges, celery, and broccoli. If a product was purchased outside of Michigan, it was not available from a Michigan producer due to regional or seasonal reasons, the Michigan Department of Education noted.