Over the past few years, many schools in Mississippi have become increasingly interested in serving fresh, locally grown products in school meals. To support these schools and their communities, we are pleased to announce the release today of anew guide: “Farm to School in Mississippi: A Step-by-Step Guide to Purchasing Mississippi Products.” This guide is launched this week to coincide with the first ever Mississippi Farm to School Week, which will be held annually the first week of October. The guide outlines the important steps schools can take to start purchasing locally grown products from Mississippi farmers while complying with state and federal regulations on school food procurement.
Over the past few years, the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic and Harvard Mississippi Delta Project have worked closely with the MFPC, as well as farmers, schools, government agencies and other stakeholders in Mississippi to foster the creation of farm to school programs in the state. During the 2012 session of the Mississippi Legislature, the MFPC worked with Representative Toby Barker to draft and introduce two pieces of farm to school legislation: a farm to school bill and a farm to school resolution. The resolution, House Concurrent Resolution #112, was signed by the governor on May 3rd and establishes the first week of October each year as “Mississippi Farm to School Week.” The resolution encourages schools to incorporate at least one locally-grown food into schools meals. It also clarifies that farm to school initiatives are legal in Mississippi, demonstrates that the Legislature values using local farm produce in schools, and encourages schools to start initiatives.
After passage of this resolution, a team of Harvard law students from the Harvard Mississippi Delta Project and the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic spent the spring semester researching farm to school programs across the country, interviewing school staff, farmers, and other stakeholders in Mississippi, and compiling useful resources to develop this purchasing guide. Farm to school programs promise to not only improve the nutritional quality of our children’s lunches, but support Mississippi farmers and the local economy.
Access the full guide here and let us know what you think in the comments.