Schools throughout northwest Lower Michigan are cooking up locally grown food for lunch this October as part of National Farm to School Month.
If you are a northwest Michigan farmer who grows fruits or vegetables and you like the idea of local school children eating the food you grow-or you just want more sales-now is the time to explore those new markets. The Michigan Land Use Institute and Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District are launching an expanded two-year pilot project that could mean up to $200,000 in sales of local agricultural products to schools in eight districts in four counties.
A regional initiative to provide schools with extra funding to buy more locally grown fruits and vegetables for students has become a reality thanks to strong support from local businesses. The program, 10 Cents a Meal for School Kids & Farms, is starting this fall at Glen Lake Community Schools and the elementary schools of Traverse City Area Public Schools and Suttons Bay Public Schools.
A plastic dishpan of potting soil, a cup of seeds and some small plastic baggies made their way around a conference room at the Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District. These simple materials evolved into tiny greenhouses and a mini-science lesson for teachers to engage their students on local food and agriculture. The Michigan Land Use Institute, TBAISD and FoodCorps teamed up to plant this seed-literally and figuratively-that local food and agriculture can be an integral part of the classroom.
The school year is about to start. And after the Republican and Democratic conventions, Congress will be back in session. Many are hoping Congress will resume debating the new Farm Bill, including provisions that could mean more fresh, local food for students in schools.
Those are all big changes if they are affecting your child – but the decisions about closing schools have much broader implications for the entire community.