SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah State Board of Education is collaborating with the Utah Department of Agriculture & Food to give $250,000 to schools to help get more fresh food to students around the state.
The program aims to improve access for students to fresh, locally-grown fruits and vegetables, all while supporting Utah farmers during the 2021-22 school year.
Money will be distributed to schools as part of their per-meal state reimbursement. Schools that spend a higher portion of their funds on locally-grown products will receive a higher state reimbursement.
Not only does the program help give students more nutritious options, but it also helps farmers keep a large consistent market base, which strengthens the local economies.
“I think a lot of kids can be hesitant to eat fruits and vegetables, but when they know it’s something that’s grown, I mean, they might even get the chance to meet that farmer who grew that food for them, a lot of schools that this already exists in, in about 10 other states, and a lot of schools are reporting higher consumption rates, less waste, and kids are more eager to eat those foods and they’re more nutritious, and healthy kids that are fed well learn better,” said Caroline Hargraves of Utah's Department of Agriculture and Food.
Each year, Utah schools and childcare centers serve 88 million meals and snacks to children.
A major reason why more fresh food isn’t served to children is the cost. This incentive program will help schools to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into the meals.