Farm To School Program Expands in Fayetteville

For the past few years the Farm to School program was in pilot schools in Fayetteville, however this year the initiative has spread district-wide, according to Ally Mrachek, nutrition supervisor.

This is Mrachek’s first year with the Fayetteville Public Schools.

Owl Creek Elementary, a year round school, is part of this initiative. The students have a vegetable garden and also buy food from local farmers.

The Farm to School program is a nationwide movement to get more food and nutrition education into schools as well as support the local economy.

Mrachek said the district buys 27 different kinds of fruits and vegetables. They also buy ground beef from one cow producer, she said.

“Instead of maybe peaches that are canned in syrup, they’ll see a whole peach on their plate or peach slices on their plate,” Mrachek said. “Our goal is to purchase locally first when it’s available and then what we can’t get locally then we buy from our distributors so they are seeing more fresh fruits and vegetables on their plate.”

The kids are also having a say on what they want to eat with the Harvest of the Month program where they taste test during lunch.

“Students will have the opportunity to try a new fruit or vegetable that’s available during that season,” Mrachek said. “It’s a positive experience, it’s non-threatening, they can try it if they want to and after they try it they get vote if they like it or not.”

“They get to take part in the decision making process, is it good enough? Do I like it enough to see it on the cafeteria menu?” she said.

Every year, the United States Department of Agriculture gives up to $5 million in grants to improve nutrition is schools. The Farm to School program is part of this.

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