A Governor's proclamation designating October as Farm to School Month spotlights a program that encourages school children to eat healthier while supporting local farmers
PROVIDENCE – Apples were the order of the day at Lincoln Middle School lunch today. Lots and lots of apples – some crisp, juicy, and whole and some sliced or chopped into sandwiches and salads – all harvested locally from Steere Orchard in Greenville. The 700 or so 6th, 7th, and 8th graders who came down to the cafeteria over three lunch periods seemed just fine with that.
Stakeholders, suppliers, and partners in the effort to further strengthen Rhode Island's food system gathered at the school to spotlight the Farm to School program. Run by Farm Fresh Rhode Island, it connects schools and farms with the goal of including high-quality, fresh, local sustainable food in school meals. It helps ensure high nutrition standards, which correlate with academic achievement, and secures key markets that support local farmers and boost the economy. Rhode Island is the national leader in Farm to School, with every school district in the state buying and serving locally-grown produce.
"As a mom, I know the importance of having fresh, high quality, local food in our schools. That's why as Governor, I'm honored to proclaim October as Farm to School Month," said Governor Gina M. Raimondo. "Thanks to our efforts, school districts across Rhode Island are buying and serving locally-grown produce while ensuring high nutrition standards at the same time. Encouraging kids to eat healthier while supporting local farmers is a win-win, and I'm proud of the progress we've made so far."
Along with Farm Fresh Rhode Island, participants included Chartwells K12, RI's statewide vendor for school food; WJAR TV-10 news anchor Alison Bologna whose Pawtucket-based Shri Studio has marketed healthful Shri Bark®snacks since 2014, orchard owner Jim Steere, RI Director of Food Strategy Sue AnderBois, and RI Department of Environmental Management Agriculture Chief Ken Ayars. AnderBois and Ayars read the Governor's proclamation and later presented it to representatives of Farm Fresh Rhode Island.
In part, the proclamation says, "Food, nutrition, and gardening education programs empower students to make informed choices and form lifelong habits. [Farm to School] programs have been shown to improve children's eating behaviors and enhance academic achievement."
About RI Food
Rhode Island is experiencing significant growth in its agricultural and local food sector. The state's food system now supports 60,000 jobs, and Rhode Island is one of a few states where the number of farms is on the rise, now standing at more than 1,200 farms. The state is a national leader in the percent of its farms selling directly to the public. Green industries in Rhode Island account for more than 15,000 jobs and contribute $2.5 billion to the economy.
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