CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Department of Agriculture (WVDA) has been awarded a farm-to-school grant totaling $99,997 for fiscal year 2020 through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Nutrition Service, Office of Community Food Systems. The funds are to assist eligible organizations implement farm-to-school programs that improve access to local foods in schools. The WVDA was awarded an initial farm-to-school grant in 2018 to support local farmers by facilitating additional farm-to-school programs throughout the state.
“During this pandemic, we have seen many organizations and people step up to feed our students. Further developing the food system that funnels into our schools, can only build resiliency and help develop local economies,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt. “Continued support from our federal partners is a win for West Virginia.”
The purpose of farm-to-school programs are to increase the amount of local foods served to students, as well as teach children about food and agriculture. The WVDA plans to institutionalize farm-to-school programming across West Virginia by hiring a state farm-to-school coordinator, as well as developing a marketing strategy to build relationships between producers and school representatives.
“These monies will help us continue our mission to expand access to healthy, fresh food in our state. Anything we can do to instill good eating habits in our children is crucial to the future health of West Virginia,” Leonhardt said.
The West Virginia Department of Agriculture protects plant, animal and human health through a variety of scientific, regulatory and consumer protection programs. The Commissioner of Agriculture is one of six statewide elected officials who sits on the Board of Public Works.