Congressman Brian Higgins announced the Buffalo Public Schools will receive a $45,000 federal grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The grant money will be used to help with the development of a plan for Buffalo Public Schools to expand the use of food from local farmers to be served in school cafeterias.
"This grant not only emphasizes the importance of nutrition for Western New York students, but it simultaneously supports local farmers and ranchers," Higgins said. "Teaching our children at a young age about nutrition is essential to their health. The federal money from USDA allows Buffalo Public Schools to do just this while helping to support the local economy."
Buffalo Public Schools Director of Food Services Bridget O'Brien-Woods said, "We are constantly working to educate our students about proper nutrition, along with providing them healthy local options. This planning grant will help bring local producers and consumers together in a way that will be meaningful to our students. I can see this as the beginning of a new appreciation among students toward lifelong good eating habits, and an awareness and respect for local food production in which they will play an important role."
Implementation of the Buffalo farm-to-school plan will incorporate students, teachers, parents, food service staff, farmers and food distributors, and will work alongside project partners Buffalo City School District, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Erie County, the Massachusetts Avenue Project (MAP), and Health Kids, Healthy Communities.
"We are proud of the work youth leaders have accomplished over the last year advocating for healthier and locally sourced school meals, and are thrilled that this support will help them to continue this work with a great group of school district and community partners," said Diane Picard, executive director of MAP.
USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack awarded more than $5 million in grants to farm-to-school programs across the country. The program is made possible by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, which provided authorization to USDA to provide grants and technical assistance to help schools gain better access to local foods.