WASHINGTON, Nov. 23, 2022 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) today announced it has signed a cooperative agreement with Washington for more than $3.6 million to increase their purchase of nutritious, local foods for school meal programs.
Through the Local Food for Schools Cooperative Agreement Program (LFS), the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) will purchase and distribute local and regional foods and beverages for schools to serve children through the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs. These products will be healthy and unique to their geographic area, with the goal of improving child nutrition and building new relationships between schools and local farmers.
“This cooperative agreement supporting Washington schools is another example of how USDA is working to build a more resilient food system rooted in local and regional production,” said USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Jenny Lester Moffitt. “The Local Food for Schools Cooperative Agreement Program provides an opportunity for states to strengthen ties between local farmers, ranchers, food businesses and schools, and gives students access to nutritious foods unique to the area they live in, building stronger connections across local communities.”
“Strengthening relationships between local producers and schools is a long-term strategy to ensure our children always have access to nutritious foods in school, a win-win for child health and American agriculture,” said Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services Stacy Dean. “Through this program and many other efforts to support the school meal programs, USDA is committed to giving schools the tools they need to set children up to learn, grow, and thrive.”
With the LFS funds, OSPI aims to increase the nutrition profile of school meals that participate in the NSLP program by purchasing Washington grown agricultural products through distributors, farmers, ranchers, and fishers.
“Not only is this a win for our students, who will be enjoying foods from right here in Washington, this project also establishes partnerships between schools and local agriculture producers that will last into the future,” said State Superintendent Chris Reykdal. “I am excited for this opportunity for our state, and the OSPI team is grateful for the partnership with the USDA who made this grant possible.”
The LFS cooperative agreements will allow organizations the flexibility to design food purchasing programs and establish partnerships with farmers and ranchers that best suit their local needs, accommodate environmental and climate conditions, account for seasonal harvests, improve supply chain resiliency and meet the needs of schools within their service area. Additionally, the program will provide more opportunities for historically underserved producers and processors to sell their products. Local Food for Schools Cooperative Agreement Program is authorized by the Commodity Credit Corporation Charter Act. AMS looks forward to continuing to sign agreements under this innovative program.
The Local Food for Schools cooperative agreement program is one of many ways USDA is supporting school meal programs this school year and transforming our food system in the long term.
For more information on USDA’s work to support school meal programs, visit USDA Support for School Meals page.