Farm to School program brings local foods to the lunch table

By  | 

ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) Several school districts in our hometowns are part of the Farm to School program.

It's where local farms provide fresh fruit and produce for kids to eat during lunch time.

At the Roanoke Academy for Math and Science, the kids in the summer enrichment program got to try the food before the school year even starts.

"It's exciting for the kids to learn that we actually have farms right around us and that we have fresh peaches, cucumbers, squash, hydroponic lettuce that they can actually, right from the farm, eat off of their tray here in the lunch room, said Ellen Craddock, food services director for Roanoke City Schools.

This year the Virginia Department of education received a nearly 100-thousand dollar grant from the U-S Department of Agriculture to fund the farm-to-school program. Roanoke City Schools is just one of many school districts in our area serving up local foods at lunch time.

"When I was standing by them they were picking out different vegetables. I said, 'Did you know this came off of a tree right by us in Botetourt County?' She looked at me and she was surprised that we had local trees and local farmers that were growing peaches," explained Craddock.

Roanoke Fruit and Produce Company ships the food to the schools.

"Most of the farmers bring us stuff on a daily or weekly basis and we purchase it and inspect it and then ship it to schools and restaurants," said Fred Najjum, owner of Roanoke Fruit and Produce.

The hydroponic lettuce served came from Four Oaks Farms in Franklin County.

"A-lot of the kids in the school actually like the lettuce and want it. And that makes you feel good when your product is that well-received and it's providing that needed nutrition to the young kids when they need it so badly," said Jerry Conner with Four Oaks Farms.

"As we've gone through the process more and more students are willing, as they go through the lunch line, to try fruits and vegetables. So that's really helped us to see some growth in their healthy eating habits," Craddock said.