RICHMOND — The Virginia Department of Education, Office of School Nutrition Programs partnered with two regional Virginia food hubs to deliver $2.1 million dollars of locally grown and raised food products to school nutrition programs in the Commonwealth.
The Centralized Local Procurement Pilot Program (CLPPP) – funded through a U.S. Department of Agriculture Supply Chain Assistance grant – was designed to strengthen regional food systems and avoid supply chain disruptions.
“We know that students learn best when they start the day with nutritious breakfasts. We also know that Virginia communities thrive when schools connect students to locally grown food,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Lisa Coons said.
Throughout Virginia, 54 local school divisions ordered local agricultural products through Virginia regional food hubs, 4P Foods and Appalachian Sustainable Development. The variety of local foods included fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables, as well as chicken and beef.
“We are continuously developing innovative strategies to support school nutrition programs and we are proud to be the only state in the nation to utilize this USDA funding opportunity,” VDOE Office of School Nutrition Director Sandy Curwood said. “Our office maintains its commitment to ensure every Virginia student has access to freshly prepared, nutritious, locally sourced, and culturally inclusive meals.”
“The CLPPP has been transformative for our local food system,” partner food hub 4P Foods Founder and CEO Tom McDougall said. “Not only is it good for the farmers and students, it’s also good for our environmental footprint, the nutrient density of the food, the economic opportunity for our farming communities, the resiliency of our supply chains, and so much more.”
“I am so excited to be a farmer involved with the farm to school initiative,” said Amy Carwile of Archlynn Farm in Charlotte County, Virginia. “I am passionate about growing fresh, wholesome produce, and that Virginia’s children are the recipient of some of that hard work is an encouragement. In addition, sales are the lifeblood of any farming operation and increased revenue streams at fair and equitable price points are always meaningful and appreciated.”
The VDOE Office of School Nutrition Programs is working on an impact analysis of the program and plans to extend the program for an additional year.
Submitted by the VDOE