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Program Will Help Bring Local Agricultural Products Into Utah Schools

In an effort to help connect students with local agriculture, the Child Nutrition Program with the Utah Board of Education will be allocating funds to schools around the state.

Kate Wheeler Utah Board of Education Child Nutritionist said this program will provide schools with high quality, fresh foods. 

“Schools that stand to benefit this from this the most are lower income schools, whether that's in rural or urban Utah," Wheeler said. "Because honestly, if you're you're a kid in a wealthy area, you probably already have access to this type of food."

Schools will be able to provide fresh foods even during the winter months said Craig Buttars, the commissioner of the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food.  

“Large facilities are growing food indoors now and hydroponics," Buttars said. "And so those things are year round operations. And we may see more of that in the future.”

Wheeler said they have been working with the Department of Agriculture to make sure schools know where to find these foods. 

“It's one thing that we reward our schools for doing, buying locally," Wheeler said, "but say they can't find a farm to buy from? That's extra work on their side. So we've really been working with the Department of Agriculture a lot over the past three or four years. We created a database on ourfarm to school website, that has a list of farmers who are specifically interested in selling to schools."

This collaboration can also help ensure a sound market for farmers to sell their produce. 

“It's looking to the future to hopefully establish more of a relationship between our local food processors and our school lunch programs," Buttars said, "so that in the future, a large market change might not have as much impact on the school lunch programs, because more they're more their food is being grown locally."