Sacramento, California - State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced today that California has been selected to participate in a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) pilot project aimed to provide students more access to fresh fruits and vegetables purchased from local farmers.
"This program will give schools more flexibility in how they procure fresh produce directly from local farmers," said Torlakson. "This is of great benefit to both local economies and local food producers."
California is one of eight states chosen to participate in the USDA's Pilot Project for Procurement of Unprocessed Fruits and Vegetables. Under this program, participating school districts can use their Food Distribution Program entitlement funds to procure unprocessed fruits and vegetables directly from local farmers and vendors approved for the pilot. Farmers and vendors are then reimbursed by the USDA. California is known as the "world's fruit basket," producing nearly half of all fruits, nuts, and vegetables consumed in the nation. The state's agricultural abundance includes more than 400 specialty crops. This program lets students enjoy a large variety of tasty fresh fruits and vegetables including strawberries, peaches, plums, carrots, and avocados. If the USDA deems the project a success, it may expand nationwide.
California's participation in this pilot project furthers Torlakson's Team California for Healthy Kids initiative designed to encourage children to eat more nutritious food and be more physically active.