The Kansas Department of Agriculture (KDA) today announced eight schools from across the state of Kansas as recipients of $12,500 Farm to School Pilot Sub-grants to implement a local food and agriculture education program in school cafeterias. Sub-grants are derived from the grant KDA received from the U.S. Department of Agriculture last fall to support efforts to connect school cafeterias with local farmers and ranchers through the Farm to School program.
Grantees will establish or expand upon an agriculture education, student managed food production system to service a minimum of two locally produced food items in the school cafeteria any five months during the school years 2014-2015 and 2015-2016. In addition, they will create and implement a farm to school educational kit and campaign for elementary and middle school students. Each grantee will host a Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) workshop in their community.
Kansas Secretary of Agriculture Jackie McClaskey, in making the announcement, was encouraged by the possibilities of the program. “Bringing an awareness of food production into schools and making the connection between agriculture and the food we eat is important,” McClaskey said. “We believe that these Farm to School programs will not only enrich the school lunches served, but also give children the opportunity to learn more about what agriculture looks like and how food really arrives from farms to our homes and schools.”
The following schools have been selected and are listed in alphabetical order:
Centre USD 397 of Lost Springs, Kan. plans to expand their school garden, start an orchard, and integrate hydroponics and aquaponics systems into their existing greenhouse.
Doniphan West USD 111 of Highland, Kan. intends to update and expand their established greenhouse as well as incorporate an aquaponics system.
Ell-Saline USD 307 of Brookville, Kan. has developed a project including raising broiler chickens, turkeys and laying hens. In addition, they will build raised garden beds and install hydroponics systems into their existing greenhouse.
Eudora USD 491 of Eudora, Kan. plans to build a hoop house, a chicken coop for laying hens, and expand their existing Agriculture Education program garden. At the middle and elementary schools, raised garden beds and mini hoop houses will be built.
Maize USD 266 of Maize, Kan. will test hydroponics, aeroponics, EarthBOX and raised-bed gardens to determine the best system for food production.
Pike Valley USD 426 of Scandia, Kan. intends to construct a greenhouse to be utilized for food and flower production as well as utilization by the science, media technology, family and consumer sciences, arts and agriculture education programs.
Rawlins County USD 105 of Atwood, Kan. has developed a project to expand the greenhouse and the chicken house for laying hens and broilers. In addition, raised bed gardens with irrigation will be built around the community.
Saint Francis USD 297 of St. Francis, Kan. plans to integrate hydroponics into their greenhouse and build raised bed gardens.
Agriculture and nutrition education programs in schools continue to be a vital link to agriculture, the state’s largest industry, employer and economic driver. Providing innovative education and experiential learning opportunities are keys to continuing to educate Kansans of all ages about the importance of agriculture to Kansas and raise awareness of modern food production processes.
KDA will be a support service to the eight grantees as they implement their plans over the next two years. For more information on the national Farm to School program, please visit www.fns.usda.gov/farmtoschool. For information on the program in Kansas, visit www.agriculture.ks.gov or contact Nellie Hill at 785-296-8047 or [email protected]
—Press release via Kansas Department of Agriculture