A new federal report praises the Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s efforts to get local foods onto the plates of school children throughout the state.

The report, submitted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm to School Team, cited examples of successful farm to school efforts in the Jefferson and Montgomery County school systems. The Kentucky Proud farm marketing program includes 78 school districts among its more than 2,500 members.

“I’m pleased that our Farm to School program and the schools that participate in it received the recognition they deserve,” Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer said. “Farm to School helps Kentucky children get the fresh, nutritious foods they need to grow up healthy and strong. And it provides producers another market for their products.”

The report said Kentucky Proud promotes the use of local foods in schools. It noted that the Jefferson and Montgomery County school systems use the Kentucky Proud logo to identify local food products served in their cafeterias.

The report pointed out that Montgomery County schools posted large images in the school cafeterias of school nutrition director Julie Tuttle and the local growers who supply the schools with produce in order to “personalize” school food service staff and local farmers with the students. “Personalizing school food service and farmers excites students, teachers and parents about local agriculture,” the report stated.

The report mentioned that the Kentucky Department of Agriculture offers Kentucky farmers free Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) training. GAP educates producers on produce production and handling techniques to minimize the risk of microbial contamination.

Tina Garland, the Department’s Farm to School Program coordinator, works with school food service coordinators to link with local producers and authorities. Garland will talk about the Farm to School Program at the Growing a Healthy Community Conference July 30 in Ashland.

For more information on the Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s Farm to School Program, contact Garland at (502) 573-0282.