The Farm to School program has been in existence since 1997 in North Carolina, with 75 farmers supplying 76 school systems with fresh produce straight from North Carolina farms. James Sharp is president of the Farm to School cooperative as well as a Wilson County farmer and contributor to the program:
“There are multiple farmers involved in the co-op and we have products that range strawberries to blueberries, romaine, and sweet potatoes. We have food safety we have to follow, all farms have to be GAP certified, which ensures the schools are getting the safest and cleanest produce possible. We are shipping product about 27 weeks of the school year. I started back in 1997, when this program first started, and I have been involved ever since.
It’s a win-win for growers and for the school kids. Its helping to keep our local economy thriving with our participation. Many of our neighboring growers in Wilson County are also participating, along with growers across the state.
The grant from Blue Cross will be a great help in continuing to bring fresh fruits and vegetables to schools.”
The recent $1.2 million grant to the Farm to School Program by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation will enable to the program to expand, not only adding farmers but also adding school systems.