For the first time in its 15-year history, the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services? Farm to School program broke the $1 million-sales mark, posting more than $1.2 million in sales of fresh fruits and vegetables during the 2011-12 school year.
The Farm to School program has continued to grow each year, and this year we saw 14 new school districts participate. I was confident this would be the year we reached $1 million in sales, said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. A strong finish with strawberry and blueberry orders helped push us over that mark.?
Under the program, school systems across the state can order fresh North Carolina produce, which is coordinated and transported to schools by the NCDA&CS Food Distribution and Marketing divisions. Farm-fresh produce offered includes apples, blueberries, broccoli crowns, cabbage, cantaloupes, collards, cucumbers, peaches, romaine lettuce, squash, sprite melons, strawberries, sweet corn, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, watermelons and zucchini.
While this is a great milestone for the program, I am especially happy that the program is ensuring the freshest fruits and vegetables are being served in school meals and that it is also providing new markets for our state's farmers, Troxler said.
Nearly 1,600 schools participated in the Farm to School program during the 2011-12 school year, ordering more than 1.5 million pounds of fresh North Carolina produce. The program served more than 1 million students this year, up 100,000 from the 2010-11 school year.
Among the biggest sellers were apple slices, strawberries and blueberries.
For more on the Farm to School program, go to the Farm to School website at www.ncfarmtoschool.com.