The USDA's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) recently awarded Tulsa Public Schools a "One in a Melon" award for administering exemplary farm-to-school programs. Fifty top programs across the country were selected for the award.
"From buying local food to planting school gardens and teaching kids where their food comes from, Tulsa Public Schools is setting a great example for their students by bringing the farm to school," said FNS Southwest Regional Administrator Bill Ludwig.
"We are so pleased that Tulsa Public Schools has received this important national recognition from the USDA," said Kit Hines, director of child nutrition at Tulsa Public Schools. "We are committed to helping children understand where their food comes from so they will develop healthy eating habits."
From March 15 - April 15, parents, teachers, community stakeholders, and students were invited to visit USDA's Farm to School Census website and nominate their favorite farm-to-school program to receive the award. According to the Census, a total of 5,254 districts participate across the U.S. From that pool, 50 school districts received the "One in a Melon" award.
Farm-to-school programs help kids form healthy habits, learn where their food comes from, and develop an understanding of the importance of nutrition and agriculture. Results of the 2015 USDA Farm to School Census show that school districts with robust farm-to-school programs report reductions in food waste, higher school meal participation rates and increased willingness of the students to try new foods, notably fruits and vegetables.
Census results also show that U.S. school districts invested nearly $800 million in local food from farmers, ranchers, fishermen, and food processors and manufacturers in the 2013-2014 school year, which is money going directly back into local communities. School districts also reported using local foods in other nutrition programs such as in summer meals programs and preschool programs. To view the full Census results, visit https://farmtoschoolcensus.fns.usda.gov.
Farm to school is an initiative of the Office of Community Food Systems, part of USDA FNS's Child Nutrition Programs Division. Since the passing of the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010, USDA has made significant progress in ensuring all children have consistent access to healthy meals through improved standards in programs such as the National School Lunch Program and Child and Adult Care Food Program.