Superintendent’s Memo #298-11

State seal, Commonwealth of Virginia

COMMONWEALTH of VIRGINIA
Department of Education

October 21, 2011

TO:  Division Superintendents

FROM:  Patricia I. Wright, Superintendent of Public Instruction

SUBJECT:  Farm-to-School Week, November 7-11, 2011

The Virginia Department of Education, along with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, invites all school divisions to celebrate the third annual Virginia Farm-to-School Week during November 7-11, 2011.  The Farm-to-School program is an initiative seeking to bring nutritious fresh food from local farms to schools. The Farm-to-School program in Virginia supports Virginia farmers by promoting opportunities for schools, distributors, and growers to work together to increase the volume of locally grown food served in schools.

Farm-to-School is not only about incorporating locally grown foods into school meals, it also enhances the educational opportunity for students who benefit by learning about planting and tending school gardens, the seasonality of food products, the importance of supporting local agriculture and the benefits associated with reducing transportation costs and protecting farms and farmland in our communities.

The past Virginia Farm-to-School weeks were very successful.  Schools and farms joined together to celebrate Virginia Grown products throughout the Commonwealth with school menus  that included local apples, broccoli, sweet potatoes, beef, milk and many other items.  Many schools hosted special events that included nutrition education activities, visits by farmers and farm animals, harvest festivals, and farm art contests.

I encourage school divisions to participate in activities recognizing Farm-to-School Week. Consider organizing a 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.  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.

Building connections between schools, students, and agricultural producers throughout Virginia will provide better economic opportunity for agriculture and healthier options for our students.  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 catherine.digilio-grimes@doe.virginia.gov or by phone at (804) 225-2074.

PIW/CDG/idl