Over one hundred sixty-five thousand (165,000) students in two hundred and seventy-nine schools in Hawaii will benefit from the Local Food to Schools co-operative grant. This grant project links three USDA programs “The Local Food for Schools Cooperative program” (LFS), “Bringing the Farm to School Producer Training” (BTFP), and the “Team Nutrition School Meal Recipe Development Project “(TNR). The project will demonstrate the ease and advantages of integrating various USDA programs to increase local commodities on the school plate while increasing business relationships with socially disadvantaged new small farmers/producers. These programs benefit both producers and schools by increasing the use of local products and providing instruction on engaging and sustaining a farm-to- school relationship.
Six strategies will be implemented by the State Agency (SA) to fulfill the grant objectives of building farm-to-school relationships. Farmers/producers will be pre-vetted for the procurement process, stakeholders will be required to attend BTFP training, local products from TNR will be utilized, funding to schools will be based on enrollment, monthly procurement reports required from schools to the SA, communication channels will be utilized for stakeholders through town halls and newsletters, annual training will be created featuring best practices and strategies, and the development of a mentorship program for future sustainability are activities planned in the grant. All of these activities will educate stakeholders and ultimately lead to a maintainable program so schools can meet the Hawaii Legislative requirement for 30% of the products on the school meal plate to be of local origin by 2030.