While Yolo Food Connection focuses part of its efforts on increasing participation in free and reduced-price school meal programs, efforts at improving the quality of those meals got a boost last week.
The California Department of Food and Agriculture awarded the Yolo County Department of Agriculture $399,930 over a three-year period to develop the countywide farm-to-school program. The award is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s California Specialty Crop Block Grant Program.
Farm to School Yolo links Yolo agriculture with the National School Lunch Program offered to 38,000 students in Yolo County, of whom 65 percent are eligible for free and reduced-priced meals, five days a week. Through the grant, five Yolo County school districts and the county’s Head Start Program will receive cooking lessons and funds to purchase products, and Yolo County farmers will receive training in marketing to school districts.
“Farm to School Yolo is a public health and agricultural marketing initiative that has the potential to change the way students and young people eat and think about food,” said Yolo County Agricultural Commissioner John Young. “ … It is our vision that as young people come to know and love fresh fruits and vegetables prepared in flavorful ways, they will develop lifelong healthy eating habits.”