NC School District Awarded $100,000 USDA Farm to School Grant for Garden Program
(Photo by Dave Cyphert of ProPoint Media Photography)
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced last week that a record-breaking 126 projects in 42 states will be awarded a total of $9 million that will impact 3.2 million students in 5,400 schools.
North Clarion was one of only four recipients in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
USDA’s Farm to School Grants fund school districts, state and local agencies, Indian tribal organizations, agricultural producers, and non-profit organizations in their efforts to increase local foods served through child nutrition programs.
In 2017, North Clarion constructed a school garden with assistance from a local agricultural producer Long Acres Farm, the Garden Club of Clarion County, and a retired school teacher Terry Moore.
The garden was planted for the first time in the spring of 2017 and harvested in the fall when the students returned to school. The harvest consisted of potatoes, corn, squash, tomatoes, and pumpkins. Local farmers provided educational demonstrations to all elementary students. Immediately following the harvest, the produce was prepared into french fries and corn on the cob as families were invited to join students in an outdoor picnic.
“North Clarion will expand upon this school garden and will work closely with area farmers to incorporate local produce within the school lunch menu,” explained Superintendent Steven Young.
“They will teach children about food and agriculture through garden and classroom education. It will give students the opportunity to explore the career path associated with agricultural science in a hands-on and meaningful way.”
According to Young, produce will be planted and harvested by the students of the North Clarion County School District elementary and high schools using modern agricultural farming methods in cooperation with local farmers and agricultural consultants.
Implementing a system to store and transfer produce, primarily potatoes, from the garden to the school lunch menu throughout the school year is an essential component of this grant.
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