Governor Deval Patrick and other officials joined students at Milton High School on Monday morning to celebrate the Sixth Annual Massachusetts Harvest for Students week, which provides an opportunity for schools to serve nutritious meals prepared with locally produced food.
The Massachusetts Farm to School Project established the initiative in collaboration with the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, the School Nutrition Association of Massachusetts and the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
“This week is such a great way to get young people excited about local agriculture and the health benefits of eating fresh, local foods,” said Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rick Sullivan in a press release on Harvest to Students week. “As we work to address the huge problem of diet-related diseases, it is wonderful to know that Massachusetts farms are part of the solution.”
The Milton Public Schools currently sell produce from Lanni Orchards in Lunenberg as well as food grown in Milton by Tim Cook in partnership with Brookwood Community Farm.
“The food to table movement has been growing in Milton,” said Gov. Patrick at the event.
Locally grown food in school cafeterias has increased across the commonwealth as well. In 2004, just 20 public schools purchased locally grown food. By 2012, the number of districts had grown to 260. According to the governor’s office, 100 Massachusetts farms reported selling food to schools last year.
Milton Public Schools Director of Food Services Jacqueline Morgan applauded the food service staff for the extra effort fresh fruits and vegetables require including preparation and recipe development.
Morgan also thanks students in the district for making the farm to table initiative work.
“We could be working so hard, but if the students aren’t trying it and eating it, it’s for nothing,” Morgan said.
To learn more about the Massachusetts farm to table movement, visit www.mass.gov/agr.