A new pilot program in Louisiana aims to get locally grown food into school cafeterias.
The Harvest of the Month project seeks one school in central Louisiana to participate in the grant.
The goal is to increase access to local produce in schools, encourage students to make healthy food choices, and deliver a curriculum that informs students where their food comes from in support of the local foods movement, according to John Dean, regional food systems planner at the Central Louisiana Economic Development Alliance.
“One of the biggest challenges in our region -- and really throughout the country -- is getting fresh, local fruits and vegetables into schools and other institutions,” Dean said. “For us, looking at a way to just start small and showing it’s possible is really what we’re striving for.”
Three schools will ultimately be part of the grant, in New Orleans, Baton Rouge and the Alexandria area. Dean hopes that when the grant program is completed at the end of next year, many more schools will adopt a model for the farm-to-school movement.
“We want to find a school that kind of resembles the average school in central Louisiana. It might be more rural. Or, it might be here in Alexandria,” Dean said. “To us, it doesn’t matter. As long as other schools can say, if they can do it we can do it.”
Friday is the deadline for schools to apply to participate in the Harvest of the Month program. Dean says it’s a short application, and even if a school is not chosen, he says it will give economic developers an idea of what schools are interested in locally grown food.
More information is at freshcentral.org.