Local Food in Schools: Good for Kids, Good for Farmers

Great article shared on Local Harvest Alliance’s Facebook page this morning about the benefits of fresh, local foods making their way onto school lunch trays–both in terms of nutrition and in terms of the local economy.

A new study from the University of Minnesota examined the potential economic impact of farm-to-school programs, focusing on a five-county area of central Minnesota.

It found the potential economic benefit to the region ranged from about $20,000 if each school served one locally grown meal a month to up to $430,000 if they bought large amounts from farmers. [“Study Shows Farm to School Benefits in Minnesota.” WCCO.com, 22 Sept. 2010.]

The article goes on to point out the potential of that kind of money sticking around in the local economy in terms of jobs–real jobs. Farm jobs.

Ryan Pesch, who co-wrote the report, says in that part of Minnesota, $400,000 could support two or three full-time farms.

My two cents’ worth here is that those supporting dollars could mean farmers staying full time on the farm, and not running back and forth to the other employment farmers in this day and age typically must pursue in order to make ends meet.

It could allow so-called “hobby farmers” (and don’t get me started on how I feel about that term–would you like to come out and “play” at my hobby for a few days?) to make a real honest-to-goodness living from their hard work.

If you’re on Facebook, do check out the Local Harvest Alliance there.  They’re updating with great articles and resources regularly.

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