Lyon County, Nevada– In 2013, Healthy Communities Coalition of Lyon and Storey got great news – the collaborative was one of 71 groups spanning 42 states and the District of Columbia receiving support through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farm to School Program, an effort to better connect school cafeterias and students with local farmers and ranchers. The grant has helped the Coalition further develop a regional “healthy food hub”, an effort to increase access to affordable, locally and sustainably grown food.
Lyon County School District Superintendent Keith Savage said of the grant, “The Lyon County School District is looking forward to the opportunity of forging new relationships with local farmers, which will ultimately benefit both our students and farmers. This grant is a natural outgrowth of what we are currently doing with our school gardens and will help us to continue the momentum of educating our students about making healthy choices. We want to thank our partners, Healthy Communities Coalition and the USDA for making this possible. “
Economic and Health Impacts: USDA Farm to School grants help schools respond to the growing demand for locally sourced foods and increase market opportunities for producers and food businesses, including food processors, manufacturers, and distributors. Lyon County School District and Healthy Communities Coalition will collaboratively work with local farmers, food cooperatives, and school gardens to increase access to locally grown and minimally processed foods for the children and teens of Lyon County.
“In rural and urban communities across the country, farm to school is teaching students where food comes from and how it gets to their plate, and encouraging them to make healthier food choices in the cafeteria and at home,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Farm to school programs are an investment in the health of our nation’s children and in the vibrancy of rural economies.”
Goals: The partners hope for a collective impact that includes : 1) increased economic prosperity for local farmers; 2) increased good health and wellness for children; and 3) increased number of food-literate children through the use of hands-on learning in school gardens.
Partners: To meet these goals, the Coalition will work with local farms, vendors, cooperatives, food management companies, the Lyon County School District, and the Mason Valley Boys and Girls Clubs sites throughout the county to develop strategies for increasing the availability of local food in the school lunch program, for increasing school garden production, and for encouraging the utilization of school garden produce in student snacks at the Boys and Girls Clubs.
USDA is focused on improving childhood nutrition and empowering families to make healthier food choices by providing science-based information and advice, while expanding the availability of healthy food. USDA’s Farm to School Program is part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, which authorized USDA to provide grants and technical assistance to help schools gain better access to local foods.
What is Healthy Communities Coalition? Healthy Communities Coalition is a collaboration of dozens of local, state, federal and tribal group partners, plus hundreds of community volunteers, all working together on a common goal to increase well-being in the region. As a group, the Coalition works together on strategies to increase access to health care, the arts, good nutrition, job skills training, etc. By “crowd sourcing” their diverse skills and knowledge, the dozens of group partners and hundreds of individuals who compose the Coalition create positive collective impact in the region. To see more about the Coalition’s strategies to increase access to affordable, locally grown food, see http://youtu.be/yr-D7xRwSTs
HCC is managing a $100,000 federal Farm to School grant to impact more than 8,000 students across 18 schools in the Lyon County School District.