SALEM, Ore. - Oregon Deputy Schools Superintendent Rob Saxton on Wednesday announced the recipients of the second round of Farm to School and School Garden grants.
This coming school year, school lunch for nearly 170,000 Oregon students will be significantly transformed thanks to an infusion of locally grown food and additional funds for food education.
Nineteen Oregon school districts have been awarded competitive grants with 82% of the funds to be spent on purchasing Oregon food products and 18% of the funds dedicated to food-, agriculture-, and garden-based education activities.
This year's awardees are: Beaverton, Bend-La Pine, Bethel, Centennial, Clatskanie, Corvallis, Hillsboro, Joseph, Lebanon, Molalla, North Powder, Oakridge, Port Orford, Portland, Salem-Keizer, Sisters, Springfield, and Yamhill-Carlton. The total amount for this year's grants is around $1.17 million.
"This is a wonderful program that supports both the nutrition and education of our student and the economic prosperity of our local farmers, fishermen, and producers," said Saxton. "I want to thank the Oregon Legislature for their increased investment in these grants, and I look forward to seeing the innovative programs and partnerships that our schools, farmers, and producers will build in the coming months and years."
The grant program is the product of House Bill 2649—the Farm to School & School Garden Bill—passed by the Oregon State Legislature with unanimous support in 2013.
This is an expansion of last year's highly successful grant program, which awarded just under $200,000 to 11 schools and resulted in the development of a number of innovative best practices.
As one example, Bend LaPine's "Boat to School" program used grant funds to explore the use of local seafood, paving the way for other school districts that were not participants in the grant to begin to feature Oregon fish products on their menus.
During last year's grant, the school districts had approximately five months during the winter and early spring in which to spend the awarded funds – a time when the supply of locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables is limited. Although the schools were successful in spending the funds, this next round of grant funding covers a two-year period with a 60% increase in funding from the previous grant.