January 31, 2012

Grant awarded to Island Grown Schools

We are pleased to announce that the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources has awarded Island Grown Schools $12,000 to support efforts to bring more fresh, healthy, locally produced foods to our island school cafeterias.
This grant is part of a $200,000 granting program by MDAR to seven "Buy Local" organizations across the Commonwealth, which aims to support local farmers and promote Massachusetts-grown foods in every region of the state. Through this grant, Island Grown Schools will collaborate with Southeastern Massachusetts Agriculture Producers (SEMAP), Buy Fresh Buy Local Cape Cod, and Sustainable Nantucket to support a vibrant regional food system in Southeastern Massachusetts.
Island Grown Schools will use its award to support local farms and expand access to local foods in the Vineyard community by working with school cafeterias to:
  • Process fresh island-grown food in the summer months so it can be preserved and used in school meals through the fall and winter;
  • Source locally grown meat, eggs, and dairy for lunches;
  • Support from-scratch cooking in the new meals program planned for Chilmark and West Tisbury schools next year; and
  • Hold taste tests of locally grown foods in classrooms and cafeterias.
"We are honored and thrilled to be a part of this important effort by the state to support food grown here in Massachusetts," said Noli Taylor, Island Grown Schools Coordinator. "It is wonderful that the Department of Agricultural Resources recognizes the importance of introducing children to eating locally produced foods, and understands the opportunity to create new markets for local farms and support local economies by building relationships between farms and school cafeterias."
Buy Local groups are organizations that connect farmers to their surrounding communities using innovative marketing and educational programs to promote agriculture. Buy Local groups help generate consumer awareness and demand for locally grown food products while improving access to these important food sources, and are committed to the idea that knowing where your food comes from is healthy and makes good sense for local economies.
“Massachusetts’ Buy Local groups serve an important role in support of our state’s efforts to promote local agriculture,” said DAR Commissioner Scott J. Soares. “These groups are in tune with specific regional challenges and opportunities making these grants an important tool of our joint efforts to bring farm products to tables across Massachusetts.”
“I am pleased to see the Department of Agricultural Resources and the Patrick-Murray Administration make these funds available,” said Sen. Marc R. Pacheco, Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture. “These grants will go a long way to help maintain the viability of local agriculture. When we buy locally grown food, we help enhance the diversity of the local economy, maintain jobs, and help to create a sustainable future for everyone."
For more information, contact Noli Taylor, Island Grown Schools coordinator: noli@islandgrown.org.