Farm to School Program Aims to Put Local Produce in VA Schools

Bedford Co., VA - There has been a push around Virginia to connect schools with local farms. It is all part of the Farm to School Tour. The program focuses on fresh, locally grown options.

"We want to see them eating that Virginia apple," said Danny Johnson from Johnson's Orchard.

The Farm to School is about getting the freshest, locally grown produce into schools.

"It's in your backyard and can be delivered within 24 hours or less, makes a big impact on taste too," said Leanne DuBois with the V.A. Dept. of Agriculture.

Johnson's Orchard played host to the event, showing those in charge of school lunch programs where food should come from. A handful of staff members from Amherst County schools were there to listen and learn a few things.

Pat Tweedy is the Cafeteria Manager at Madison Heights Elementary School. She says all 528 of her students love the fresh options.

"My kids love apples! That's their main thing. They'll take an apple over anything," said Tweedy.

Tweedy says it is all about teaching kids healthy habits.

"If they get used to it there, then they ask mom if they can have it at home and that's better than a potato chip," said Tweedy.

Right now, Amherst County Schools receives money for fresh produce.

"It translates into about 60 cents a snack per day," said Kimberly Klein, Child Nutrition Supervisor at Amherst Co. Schools.

"You really have to stretch your dollars and make the most of your dollars and make the most of everything that you can and try to buy wisely. But we try to get the freshest that we can and provide the most nutritional impact for our kids," said Klein.

Right now, Johnson's Orchard does not supply any produce to any schools in the state. The Virginia Grown program hopes this is a step in the right direction.