Vinton, Iowa – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has handed out $12.1 million in Farm to School Grants to 159 grantees across the nation. This includes a USDA Farm to School Implementation Grant awarded to a project that will involve Vinton-Shellsburg, Union, and Waverly-Shell Rock Community School Districts in Eastern Iowa.
“This is very exciting for everyone involved with the project,” said Eileen Schmidt, Program Manager. “We have a very good core group of people committed to helping get fresh, local foods into the schools to help kids eat better. But we are also trying to include the local farmers to help them, and to help the local economy”
Karen Ackman, Vinton-Shellsburg Food Service Director, states, “I am overjoyed knowing that going forward, we will be exposing more students to fresh, healthy choices and habits.”
Union Community School District Food Services Director, Tina Hanna adds, “We are excited to be involved with the Farm to Schools Grant to expand in our Local Fresh Foods provided to our students and helping our students learn about healthy choices.”
Vinton-Shellsburg Community School District completed a Farm to School Planning Grant in December 2019. They finished the two-year grant within 18 months due to strong support from the district and the community. The latest grant, USDA Farm to School Implementation Grant, will expand the Farm to School Program in their district as well as work with Waverly-Shell Rock Community School District and Union School District to help provide more fresh, local foods to their students. The districts reach five counties in Iowa and could serve over 4,700 students meals using locally grown ingredients.
This project will also include input and guidance from Jodie Huegerich, Local Foods Coordinator with the University of Northern Iowa’s Center for Energy and Environmental Education.