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KUSD Awarded Farm to School Planning Grant

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently announced that the Konocti Unified School District (KUSD), in partnership with North Coast Opportunities, Inc. (NCO), has been awarded a Farm to School Planning Grant. Part of the $4.8 million in grants for 74 projects spanning 39 states, this funding is intended to support the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) efforts to connect child nutrition programs with local farmers and ranchers through its Farm to School Program. "Farm to school programs work — for schools, for producers, and for communities," said Secretary Vilsack. "By serving nutritious and locally grown foods, engaging students in hands-on lessons, and involving parents and community members, these programs provide children with a holistic experience that sets them up for a lifetime of healthy eating."

Through this grant, KUSD – in partnership with NCO – will increase the use of locally grown foods in school meals and the number of students who participate in those meals by embedding farm to school best practices into school culture. “This is a wonderful opportunity for our students and families,” said Donna Becnel, Superintendent, Konocti Unified School District.

Strategies include working with multiple schools in the district, increasing local foods in summer meals, revising policies to facilitate local procurement, increasing school vegetable production, aligning experiential education with Common Core state standards, and engaging the community through marketing and promotion.

“NCO congratulates the Konocti Unified School District on its continuing commitment to increase the amount of Lake County produce served in school meals to nourish students in the Clearlake, Clearlake Oaks, and Lower Lake areas,” said Terre Logsdon, NCO’s Lake County Farm to School Coordinator. “KUSD has been participating in NCO’s Lake County Farm to School project for over a year, and we are thrilled they were awarded this grant to embed the farm to school project throughout the district.”

“With early results from our Farm to School Census indicating schools across the nation invested nearly $600 million in local products, farm to school also provides a significant and reliable market for local farmers and ranchers,” said Secretary Vilsack. Logsdon agrees, adding, “This grant will have a major impact for local farmers who can sell to the district, as well as improve child nutrition.”

In the three years since the bipartisan passage of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, kids have eaten healthier breakfasts, lunches, and snacks at school. Over 87 percent of KUSD students are eligible for free or reduced-price meals, and this grant will be a critical element of KUSD’s ability to serve healthier and locally sourced food “We want students to eat healthy all of the time,” said Becnel. “By using locally grown produce, students will become accustomed to what is available locally and seasonally, and bring that awareness of local foods into their homes.”

If you have a student – or are a student – attending a KUSD school, are a local farmer or an allied business, and would like to participate on the Farm to School Planning Grant Committee, please contact Mandy Lopez, Director of Nutrition Services, at (707) 994-4543 (ext. 3211) or email mandy.lopez@konoctiusd.org.

Program(s) Involved: Lake County Farm to School