Supply, Labor, Money Keys To Getting More Local Food Into Schools

Originally published on October 12, 2011 10:48 am

When it comes to meeting the goal of getting more local food into school lunch, a major challenge has always been finding the money. Thanks to the new school lunch law, more federal grants than ever are available.

But the problem is bigger than money. It takes a serious supply chain and dedicated labor to make it work, too.

WAMU Reporter Jonathan Wilson's piece this morning on Loudoun County, Virginia school officials' struggle to get more Loudoun County beef, eggs or produce into the hands of kids illustrates this difficulty.

The suburban Washington county has some 1,400 farms, but few are big enough to supply the school program, says Kellie Boles, who works for the county's rural economic development program. And that's not going to change quickly.

"What you're going to see is maybe 2 percent of produce in local schools in the next 5 to 10 years could be from Loudoun County," she tell Wilson.

It also takes a dedicated champion to make change happen. Baltimore City Schools chef Tony Geraci is getting noticed for his efforts to get more Maryland produce into Baltimore schools.

But it takes work. Geraci, who's one of 1,600 chefs participating in First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move program to get chefs in schools, goes out himself to find sources for things like apples and peaches.

What's happening in your schools on the local food front? Do you have a stand out person or system we need to know about? Drop us a line at thesalt at npr dot org.

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