Rural students in Southwest Washington will be eating more locally-grown food for the 2022-2023 school year. That's because Raymond School District, Hoquiam School District, Aberdeen School District, and Pe Ell School District were all awarded Washington Department of Agriculture (WSDA) Farm to School Grants.
The WSDA's Farm to School Program funds school districts in Washington state to buy local food, educate students about agriculture, and more. 'Our goal is to support expanding economic opportunities for farmers while educating students about the connections between food, farming, health, and the environment,' WSDA's Farm to School Program website reads.
The School District staff are eager to feed kids in remote schools, healthy, local food. School Districts off the I-5 corridor are plagued with supply chain issues, and these funds help strengthen their food offerings.
"The Aberdeen School District is thrilled that the WSDA has once again provided the opportunity to serve our students food from local farms again this year," Jaime Matisons Food Service Director at Aberdeen School District Food Service Department said. "The Southwest Washington Food Hub helps us source locally grown meat, dairy, eggs,veggies, and fruit from Washington state farms."
Pe Ell School District, which lies 23 miles West of Chehalis, is a first-time recipient of the WSDA Farm to School Grant, but has made a valiant effort to buy local food prior to this school year.
"We've always tried our best to feed our students foods from local farms whenever possible and are excited to ramp that up for the 2022-2023 school year," said Melissa Holmes, Food Service Director at Pe Ell School District. "The WSDA Farm to School grant award helps put extra money in our food budget to make it possible, and our partnership with Southwest Washington Food Hub makes it easier to do."
The Southwest Washington Food Hub (SWWFH), a farmer-owned distributor, will deliver food to Hoquiam, Aberdeen, Raymond, Pe Ell, and additionally Olympia School Districts.
"Our district partnered with the Southwest Washington Food Hub last school year and purchased dairy products, grass fed ground beef and produce for 12 local farms and ranches," Paul Flock, Olympia School District's Child Nutrition Director stated. "The Olympia School District is excited to continue our partnership with the Southwest Washington Food Hub this school year."
SWWFH intends to expand its service to rural students in Southwest Washington. Schools in the region interested in ordering from SWWFH are encouraged to reach out.
About Southwest Washington Food Hub
Southwest Washington Food Hub is part of the Southwest Washington Growers Cooperative, a producer-owned cooperative committed to supporting agricultural development in Southwest Washington. SWWFH aggregates, markets, and distributes member-grown food. SWWFH is supported by Northwest Agriculture Business Center (NABC), WSU Thurston County Extension, and Thurston County Economic Development Council.