A planned effort to promote healthy eating at the Lemon Grove School District’s new middle school campus is among 68 projects nationwide to receive a grant from the USDA.
The district will receive $43,920 for the planned development of farm to school activities at the revamped Lemon Grove Academy.
The campus plans to use the Garden Club to disseminate information and create displays at the school to share information about local produce with students, school district officials wrote in the grant application.
“They will develop posters and captions for the Principal’s newsletter and menus, which along with student‐produced broadcast segments will introduce new local produce to students,” officials said. “Our goal is to maximize use of local, minimally processed and fresh foods in school meals every day, first at the Academy and later throughout the District.”
The school district already has policies and programs in place that promote healthy eating, participating in San Diego County’s Farm to School Task Force. The district’s efforts are in line with the Counties Communities Putting Prevention to Work and a community Kaiser Healthy Eating Active Living grant, according to officials.
Several campuses in the district feature school gardens, including San Miguel, Monterey Heights, Mt. Vernon, Vista La Mesa Academy, and Lemon Grove Academy-elementary
San Diego County has 6,687 farms, more than any other county in the United States, officials said.
Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan recently announced the more than $4.5 million in grants going to 68 projects across 37 states and the District of Columbia. The grants are designed to connect school cafeterias with local agricultural producers, she said in a news release.
The first-ever USDA Farm to School grants will serve more than 3,200 schools and 1.75 million students, responding to the greater demand for locally sourced foods and supporting nutrition education efforts such as school gardens, field trips to local farms, and cooking classes, Merrigan said.
"When schools buy food from nearby producers, their purchasing power helps create local jobs and economic benefits, particularly in rural agricultural communities," Merrigan said. "Evidence also suggests that when kids understand more about where food comes from and how it is produced, they are more likely to make healthy eating choices."