Locally Grown is an organization just beginning on the Tampa scene. Founded by two women nutritionists local to Tampa that have been working in the school system for the duration of their career , they are working to maximize the regional food system locally.
What is Farm to School and how will they build it? In order to get the maximum benefit from a Farm to School Program you need to teach students about food and where it is produced, serve them high quality locally grown/produced food and let them engage in growing food. They are embarking on a one year planning process that engages stakeholders in the food system and emphasizes the importance of local, nutritious food in school cafeterias.
Education: Food and agriculture education that helps students connect 1. where their food comes from, 2. how it is produced, 3. the impact that has on the environment and 4. how food nourishes their bodies and minds. We seek to connect the school district and community organizations engaged in this education in an effort to maximize the impact and make a connection to what is happening in our school cafeterias through lessons and marketing.
Purchasing: HCPS serves over 180,000 meals to our students every day! In order to purchase locally grown foods for our school meals, we have to engage in building farmer relationships, navigating procurement rules and budget considerations. Locally Grown Inc will take the lead on this aspect of the project and work hand in hand with the district School Nutrition Services team to bring more local foods to our schools and market these foods to students to increase consumption of these healthy options.
Gardening: How do you close the loop and ensure that students will actually consume the healthy local foods being served? You let them get their hands dirty through experiential gardening! If they grow it, they will eat it. There are excellent examples of this happening throughout our district. We aim to connect what is happening and expand these services to more schools and more students. We will also explore what it takes to serve the food produced in school gardens in school meals.