WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Jenny Lester Moffitt and Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services Stacy Dean, along with U.S. Senator Jon Ossoff (D-GA) and U.S. Representative Sanford Bishop Jr. (GA-02), announced on Monday the signing of a cooperative agreement between USDA and Georgia for more than $7.1 million to increase the state’s purchase of nutritious, local foods for school meal programs.
Local Food for Schools Cooperative Agreement Program
Through the Local Food for Schools Cooperative Agreement Program (LFS), the Georgia Department of Education will purchase and distribute local and regional foods and beverages for schools to serve children through USDA’s National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs.
“This cooperative agreement supporting Georgia schools is another example of how USDA is working to build a more resilient food system rooted in local and regional production,” said Under Secretary Moffitt. “The Local Food for Schools Cooperative Agreement Program provides an opportunity for states to strengthen ties between local farmers, ranchers, food businesses and schools, and gives students access to nutritious foods unique to the area they live in, building stronger connections across local communities.”
With the LFS funds, GaDOE will help cultivate relationships and business opportunities between Georgia’s famers, distributors, and School Food Authorities (SFAs) by purchasing healthy fresh and nutritious foods from local underserved farmers and producers and have them distributed to communities in the state.
Comments About the Agreement
“We want to send our kids to school knowing they’re going to be well fed with good, fresh food. We also want Georgia farmers to have the opportunity to sell fresh, locally grown Georgia produce to our schools. This new program is a win-win for Georgia students and farmers,” said Sen. Ossoff.
“I am delighted with today’s announcement and look forward to the implementation of this pilot program, particularly in Middle and Southwest Georgia which is home to our state’s top agricultural counties. Our farmers are ready and willing to provide our schools with the fresh food necessary for a healthy diet and it is important that the bounty of our local producers also benefits our local communities. As a top leader on the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, I have made local food purchasing a priority – particularly for the National School Lunch Program,” said Congressman Bishop Jr.
State School Superintendent Richard Woods said, “Georgia has the fifth-largest school nutrition program in the nation. Our school nutrition professionals are committed to fueling Georgia’s future by serving quality school meals that support student achievement and Georgia’s communities. These funds will continue to support excellence in Georgia’s school meals, allowing our school nutrition programs to provide more Georgia foods for Georgia’s students.”
LFS cooperative agreements will allow organizations the flexibility to design food purchasing programs and establish partnerships with farmers and ranchers that best suit their local needs, accommodate environmental and climate conditions, account for seasonal harvests, improve supply chain resiliency and meet the needs of schools within their service area.