COMMONWEALTH of VIRGINIA
Department of Education
October 22, 2010
TO: Division Superintendents
FROM: Patricia I. Wright, Superintendent of Public Instruction
The Virginia Department of Education, along with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, invites all school divisions to celebrate the second annual Virginia Farm-to-School Week during November 8-12, 2010. The Farm-to-School program is an initiative seeking to bring nutritious fresh food from local farms to schools. Virginia schools currently spend more than $6 million annually on fresh produce.
The first Virginia Farm-to-School Week in 2009 resulted in the participation of many school divisions across the Commonwealth, featuring over thirty Virginia Grown products. The most popular products served were apples, broccoli, and sweet potatoes; however, local beef, pork, catfish, cabbage, collard greens, and many other items were also served in our schools.
Farm-to-School is not only about serving locally grown foods in the school cafeteria, it encompasses many types of programs and school experiences, such as planting and tending school gardens, educating children about nutrition, the seasonality of food products, and the importance of supporting local farms. Visit the Farm-to-School Web site hosted by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to order promotional materials and to download other helpful resources, including links to local farmers: http:/www.vdacs.virginia.gov/marketing/farm.shtml.
I encourage school divisions to participate in activities recognizing Farm-to-School Week. Consider organizing a one-day Farm-to-School event at schools in your division. Feature a single local product on the menu or offer samples of a new item. Work with your food distributors to ask them for local products when you place your orders. Invite parents, community leaders, and state and local representatives to visit your schools and enjoy a school lunch or snacks that feature local farm products.
Building connections between schools, students, and agricultural producers throughout Virginia will provide better economic opportunity for agriculture and healthier options for our children. If you have any questions, please contact the school nutrition program specialist assigned to your division, or Catherine Digilio Grimes, director of school nutrition programs, by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (804) 225-2074.
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