Fayette County Public Schools awarded a grant for local food studies

Arithmetic and…agriculture? Decades ago, children would drop out of school just to help their families with the heavy load of farming. Working the land was passed from generation to generation. However, with the convenience and abundance of fast food restaurants and the frozen section of the grocery store, many have forgotten where their food is actually coming from. As part of the ongoing initiative to reconnect families with the food they are eating, Fayette County Public Schools has received a federal grant for the purpose of teaching students about farming through a Farm to School program.

The goal of the $45,000 grant, awarded by the US Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service, is to help students understand the connections between local food and science, agriculture, nutrition and health, according to a press release on the Fayette County Public Schools website. The federal grant will enable FCPS to expand its Farm to School program district wide.

This “planning grant,” gives the Farm to School team a chance to see what works and what does not so that they may better execute a strong program, according to Marty Flynn, Child Nutrition Program Coordinator for the school system. Flynn states they will use this grant “to identify barriers and necessary processes to implement the Farm to School program in all schools.” Lane states, “during the next year, FCPS will be part of a cohort of schools and districts planning robust Farm to School programs and sharing their processes, successes and lessons learned.”

Flynn explains that they “have done taste tests with local foods in many of our schools, mostly elementary. Students have tried locally grown heirloom cherry tomatoes, asparagus, strawberries, broccoli, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, delicata squash, spaghetti squash, butternut squash, eggs, cheese, kale, Swiss chard and apples.” Not just a fun snack for the students, the tests are also quite informative. Flynn elaborates, “During these taste tests, students are provided information about the food item, how it grows, where it grows and about local foods.”

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