USDA seeks ways to boost farm-to-school programs

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The  popularity of farm-to-school programs that put locally grown food on cafeteria  trays has exploded in recent years — so much so that the federal agency in  charge of school lunches is giving them a new stamp of approval.

Deputy Agriculture Secretary Kathleen  Merrigan said the programs have become so popular so fast that her agency  doesn’t have solid figures on how many schools are serving their students  vegetables, fruits and meat grown by local farmers.

“We know it’s just snowballing,”  Merrigan said in an interview with The  Associated Press before her appearance Tuesday at the School  Nutrition Association convention in Nashville, Tenn.

The U.S. Department of  Agriculture used the convention to release a new report on what works in  farm-to-school programs, what doesn’t and what the agency can do to help them  work better. The report was put together by a USDA  team that traveled to 15 school districts across the country and comes as  officials, including first lady Michelle  Obama, are promoting the importance of healthier food for kids.

Read more: http://www.seattlepi.com/news/article/USDA-seeks-ways-to-boost-farm-to-school-programs-1463720.php#ixzz1TynBufet

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