Press Release: Maryland Leads The Nation In Farm To Summer
School Districts Buy Local Throughout The Year
For Immediate Release Contact: Bill Reinhard, 410-767-0486, 410-241-7108 (cell)
Baltimore, MD (June 29, 2016)
More Maryland school districts purchase local foods for summer nutrition programs than any other state in the nation, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and that’s great news for local children.
The USDA’s recently released Farm to School Census has placed a spotlight on Maryland’s success. Nationally, 22 percent of districts participating in Farm to School purchase local foods for their summer programs. Maryland is at the head of the class, with 59 percent of participating school districts buying local food during the summer.
Maryland summers produce rich agricultural abundance and school districts take advantage of the fresh, local offerings by serving them in the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). The SFSP is a USDA program that combats childhood hunger by reimbursing agencies for meals served to children during the summer.
“Summer can be a difficult time for children who rely on school meals. Without access to nutritious food, many of our students experience hunger and the subsequent negative health and learning effects,” said Dr. Karen Salmon, Acting State Superintendent of Schools. “Incorporating local foods into the summer nutrition programs not only supports Maryland agriculture, but also enhances the healthfulness of the meals children receive.”
Maryland Agriculture Secretary Joe Bartenfelder shared his appreciation for Maryland schools: "I commend the school systems for buying Maryland-grown products throughout the school year,” he said. “ The Summer Food Service Program offers an additional opportunity for schools and other providers to incorporate products grown by Maryland farmers into summer meals. Children who otherwise may not have the opportunity to experience biting into a fresh local juicy peach or eating a slice of local watermelon can now have a chance if they participate in the Program."
In addition to offering local foods, some SFSP agencies have begun serving summer meals at farmers’ markets across the State. Anne Arundel County Public Schools, for example, has partnered with the County Health Department and Shlagel Farms to operate a pop-up market at one of their existing SFSP sites, Brooklyn Park Middle School.
A celebratory event is scheduled from 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. on Monday, July 11, 2016 at Brooklyn Park Middle School. Media and the community are invited to attend.
The SFSP is open to children and teens age 18 and under and to individuals over 18 who are mentally or physically disabled. To locate a summer meals site, visit www.mdsummermeals.org. To learn more about Maryland’s Farm to School Program, visit http://mda.maryland.gov/farm_to_school/Pages/farm_to_school.aspx