The Washington State Department of Agriculture is investing more than $3.5 million to get locally grown food on lunch trays across the state this school year.  WSDA recently notified 83 school districts and childcare centers letting them know that they can use the money to make farm food purchases during the current school year.  WSDA Farm to School Purchasing Grant Specialist Claire Finnerty said the schools and childcare centers can use the program in a number of different ways.


"Maybe they'll do apples, and they'll have one day at lunch where they have different types of apples and students can sample them and see which one is their favorite. Or maybe the next month they'll do a vegetable like Jícama that some students have never see before of eaten before."


Finnerty said schools will also switch out farm food that is seasonal and incorporate it into meals.  The Washington State Legislature provided funds to expand WSDA’s Farm to School program.  The grant is administered in partnership with Washington’s Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.  The grants are available to school districts and childcare centers that have a USDA child nutrition program, tribal schools, or tribal early learning centers.  The Grants can range from $2,900 to more than $400,000, depending on the number of meals served at the schools.


Finnerty said the schools and childcare centers can use the grants on all types of food.


"We mostly have reimbursed produce, which is awesome, fruits and vegetables across the state, but also, a lot of meat. We can also reimburse fish. So, anything grown, raised or caught within Washington, all different types of food.” 


Click Here to learn more about the WSDA’s Farm-to-School program.  Farmers interested in getting their foods to schools are encouraged to contact the state agriculture department. 


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