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Ore. tags $1.2M for local food in schools

This fall, Oregon school districts will reap local harvests in a big way, thanks to new funding from the Oregon Legislature.

In the session concluded July 8, the Legislature awarded nearly $1.2 million for Farm to School and School Garden programs for the 2013-15 biennium.

The majority of the funds will directly reimburse school districts for the purchase of Oregon foods, and are expected to strengthen Oregon’s food economy and contribute to local job creation and food security. The remaining portion is for food, garden, and agricultural education. Distributed to school districts through a competitive grant program, funds will be awarded in August so that selected districts can buy and serve local foods as soon as school starts this fall — during the peak of Oregon’s harvest season.

“The magnitude of this round of funding is really a game changer for our state,” said Stacey Sobell, Farm to School Manager for Ecotrust. “The financial implication is that districts will not only be able to individually seek out and serve more Oregon foods, but they will also be able to collectively use their purchasing power to shift the broader market and persuade food suppliers to provide healthy foods sourced close to home.”

Oregon is a national leader in the Farm to School and School Garden movement, said Anupama Joshi, executive director and co-founder of the National Farm to School Network.

“The progress Oregon has made with Farm to School policies and innovative programming in just a few years is truly remarkable,” said Joshi. “Oregon is providing a great example for how state level commitments can support healthy children, healthy farms and healthy communities.”

Grant details: http://bit.ly/1778LZw.

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