Program aims to bring Utah-grown foods to school meals

Education

Trays of food at a school cafeteria. (KOIN)

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – A new program is encouraging Utah schools to provide meals with food straight from the Beehive State.

Every year, schools and childcare centers in Utah serve over 88 million meals and snacks to children. Both schools and farmers cite cost as a major barrier preventing more minimally processed Utah-grown produce, grains, and meat aren’t included in those meals.

The new Child Nutrition Program, a result of a collaboration between Utah’s Department of Agriculture and Food and the State Board of Education, will administer $250,000 for a farm to fork, Utah-grown school meal incentive program, which serves to overcome that barrier and increase access to fresh, locally grown foods.

Officials say the program is intended to not only improve school meal quality, but support Utah farmers during the 2021-22 school year.

Money will be paid out to Utah schools as part of their per-meal state reimbursement. Those that spend a higher portion of their funds on unprocessed food products grown in Utah will receive a higher per-meal state reimbursement.

Utah joins ten other states – including New Mexico, Colorado, and New York – offering a locally-grown incentive program for school meals.

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