Commissioner of Agriculture Cindy Hyde-Smith, Representative Toby Barker, and the Mississippi Food Policy Council praised the passage Thursday of the House Concurrent Resolution 112 designating the first week in October 2012 as Farm to School Week in Mississippi. During Mississippi Farm to School Week, schools are encouraged to serve at least one locally grown food in school meals.
“Recognizing Farm to School Week provides a wonderful opportunity to not only bring attention to the variety of crops grown in Mississippi and the farmers that produce them, it also educates the younger generation on where their food comes from,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Cindy Hyde-Smith. “We are looking forward to celebrating Farm to School Week, and we hope that others take time to recognize this week as well.”
The resolution, sponsored by Representative Toby Barker of Hattiesburg, was written based on the recommendations proposed by the Mississippi Food Policy Council during the meetings of the legislatively created Healthy Foods Advisory Committee in 2011.
“I’m excited about the potential of drawing the state’s attention to such an important program like Farm to School,” said Representative Toby Barker. “Putting emphasis on this valuable partnership between local produce and local schools can greatly benefit health and nutrition in our state.”
According to the Mississippi Food Policy Council, Mississippi’s children currently suffer from the highest rates of childhood obesity in the country, and many of those students do not eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables. Farm to School programs have been shown to increase fruit and vegetable consumption among students and to be an effective way to teach children about nutrition, health, and the environment. Farm to School programs also keep food dollars in the state, which supports local farmers and the local economy.
“I applaud Representative Barker and the Mississippi legislature for investing in the health of our children and in the farmers of Mississippi,” said Roy Mitchell, chair of the Mississippi Food Policy Council. “The Mississippi Food Policy Council is looking forward to working with growers and schools around the state to make Mississippi’s first Farm to School Week a success.”