North Carolina's Farm to School program receives grant from the Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation
This is one of five refrigerated tractor-trailers NCDA&CS' Food Distribution Division will purchase with the $1.2 million grant from the Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation. The new trucks will expand the N.C. Farm to School Program, adding 35 more school systems statewide.
The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation has invested $1.2 million to expand the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services' Farm to School Program in response to the growing problem of childhood obesity in North Carolina. The grant provides funding for five new refrigerated tractor-trailers, increasing the distribution of local fruits and vegetables to 35 additional school systems statewide.
"This expansion of the Farm to School program provides even more students with healthy, North Carolina-grown options, nutrition education and helps children connect their food to the farms where it grows, which are all important steps in preventing and reducing obesity," said Kathy Higgins, BCBSNC Foundation president. "Our state's child nutrition services focus on health and quality for our students and local, fresh food is an important component."
In addition to the tractor-trailers, the grant supports a three-year Farm to School marketing initiative to teach children about what is being served in their school cafeteria, where it is grown, how to make healthy food choices and the importance of a healthy diet, as well as raise the profile of the Farm to School program among school systems across the state. Access to healthy food and the education to make smart choices are more important than ever as one in three children in North Carolina is obese or at risk of becoming obese.
"N.C. school children are not the only beneficiaries from the expansion of the Farm to School program. Local farmers also benefit by serving the increasing number of schools receiving farm-fresh food," said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. "More school children will receive fresh produce, more often. And farmers will increase their customer base. The expansion of this program is a win for our entire state."
N.C. Farm to School has been supplying school cafeterias across the state with locally grown produce since 1997. Last year the program served more than 900,000 students almost 1.4 million pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables. Farm-fresh produce is provided throughout the school year and includes apples, blueberries, broccoli crowns, cabbage, cantaloupes, collards, cucumbers, peaches, romaine lettuce, squash, sprite melons, strawberries, sweet corn, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, watermelons and zucchini.
For more information, visit the Farm to School program website at www.ncfarmtoschool.com.