Delaware agencies team up to get more locally produced food into Delaware schools.
As part of the ongoing effort to get kids to eat healthier, three state agencies in Delaware signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) designed to encourage cooperation among the Departments of Agriculture, Education, and Health and Social Services.
The agreement calls for all three groups to integrate locally grown food from Delaware farms into their facilities, both schools and long term health care facilities. Delaware Agriculture Secretary Ed Kee says in addition to getting kids eating healthier, “It also opens up the door for nutrition education, and some curriculum opportunities about agriculture and good nutrition.”
Some school districts are already getting food from local farms. Kee says, “Delaware farmers have been connecting with schools over the years, but this is to try to put more emphasis on it and try to make those connections as well.” Kee says the program is similar to a recent trend of Delaware restaurants reaching out to local farmers for food for their menu.
Of the state’s 2,500 farms, between 200 and 300 grow fruits and vegetables. The MOA clears the way for getting some of that food into schools and other facilities in a number of forms, including fresh, frozen, canned, and pickled.
In addition to educating students about healthy eating and the importance of agriculture, the agreement has the potential to support Delaware’s farms, which have been shrinking in recent years. In 1970, Delaware had 650,000 acres of farmland, compared to 500,000 acres that remain today. That’s an average of 1-2% of farmland lost each year. Despite that decline, 41% of the state’s land mass is in farmland, one of the highest percentages in the Northeast.