Media Advisory: Columbus City Schools Earns Federal Farm to School Grant to Boost Kids Eating Ohio Apples

Media Alert

Columbus City Schools Earns Federal Farm to School Grant to Boost Kids Eating Ohio Apples

Building on efforts to encourage students to eat healthier, locally-produced foods - and support Ohio-based farmers and food producers - the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has awarded Columbus City Schools a nearly $100,000 grant to offer more sliced, fresh, local fruit in our cafeterias.
The District’s “Bigger Procurement, Smaller Bites” project was one of only 65 proposals across the country to receive a USDA Farm to School award, designed to increase the amount of local foods served in schools.
The plan is to purchase a fresh apple cutting system which will clean, slice, preserve, weigh, and bag local apples to be served in elementary schools. Cafeteria surveys have revealed that students eat more of the apples when pre-sliced.
Earlier this year, Columbus City Schools moved to purchase all of its apples from Ohio farms - a major undertaking given that the District purchases approximately three million apples each year.
The equipment will give the District the capacity to handle field-washed produce directly from Ohio producers in an efficient and cost-effective manner, effectively solving the biggest farm to school barrier to offering more fresh fruits and vegetables.
That means apples are just the start, shared Joe Brown, Director of the District’s Food Services operation. The equipment could easily be adjusted to other fresh produce including carrots, cucumbers, and squash.
Columbus City Schools has received national recognition for its new “Ohio Days: My State. My Plate.” initiative, serving a nutritious lunch each month of Ohio-sourced foods. 
“Locally-sourced foods are fresher and healthier. Transporting them a shorter distance instead of across the country is better for the environment,” said Dr. Dan Good, Superintendent and CEO. “By purchasing our food locally, we are supporting Ohio farmers, Ohio jobs, and Ohio’s economy.”
According to the USDA’s Farm to School Census, schools with strong farm to school programs report higher school meal participation, reduced food waste, and increased willingness of the students to try new foods, such as fruits and vegetables.
The District’s farm to school efforts are the outcome of a special Working Group which includes key community partners: Columbus Public Health, The Ohio State University Extension and the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission.
This Working Group has led a coordinated planning process to increase the percentage of the District’s budget spent on local food, increase the amount of local foods consumed by students, and expand the District’s capacity to promote and teach about local foods.
In the fight against childhood hunger, Columbus City Schools took the very bold step three years ago to provide breakfast and lunch every school day to all of its nearly 52,000 students at no cost. For these efforts, the District has been repeatedly recognized as having one of the best breakfast programs in Ohio.