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Governor Whitmer Proclaims October as Farm to School Month
October 12, 2022
LANSING, MI - Governor Gretchen Whitmer proclaimed October as Farm to School Month in Michigan as part of the national Farm to School program enriching the connection communities have with fresh, healthy food, and local farmers.
“The Farm to School program empowers schools, students, and their families to make informed food choices, strengthening the local economy, creating economic opportunity for our rural communities, and improving the health and well-being of our kids,” said Governor Whitmer. “The bipartisan budget I signed earlier this year made record investment in education to help our kids succeed in the classroom and essential programs like Farm to School further enrich the student experience by offering them a solid nutritional foundation and also opening doors of opportunity for them to pursue careers in agriculture.”
Michigan’s Farm to School involves state agencies, community partners, academia, farmers and school food service programs, working together to lift up children, families, and communities in an equitable and inclusive way. The Center for Regional Food Systems at Michigan State University, the Michigan Department of Education (MDE), the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD), and local community and school food programs lead the statewide efforts.
Through the Farm to School program, schools, and preschools buy and feature locally produced, farm-fresh foods such as dairy, fruits and vegetables, eggs, honey, meat, and beans on their menus. Schools also incorporate nutrition-based curriculum providing student learning opportunities like farm visits, garden-based learning, cooking lessons, and composting and recycling programs. As a result, students have access to fresh, local foods, and farmers have access to new markets through school sales.
"Michigan's local farmers, farm workers, and school nutrition professionals are key components of our state's vibrant food system," said MDARD Director Gary McDowell. "The framework in place through Farm to School efforts is a great connection point for farmers, schools and families. It’s the opportunity to pique student interest in agriculture as a career while offering an avenue for them to understand where their food comes from.”
“Parents can be assured that their children are receiving healthy and nutritious food at school – and from their own community,” said State Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice. “MDE has long supported and fostered farm to school programs through state-level partnerships, multiple federal grants, the 10 Cents a Meal for Michigan’s Kids and Farms project and encouraging the purchase of Michigan-grown products for all of our nutrition programs."
MDE houses all federal child nutrition programs outside of Women, Infants and Children and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The department is responsible for school lunch/breakfast programs, after school meals, childcare meals, summer meals, and the food distribution programs of The Emergency Food Assistance Program and Community Supplemental Food Program.