LFS Executive Summary – Maryland

The Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) Office of School and Community Nutrition Programs (OSCNP) is working to create a robust and sustainable farm to school network throughout the state. The OSCNP provides leadership and guidance to Local Education Agencies (LEAs) to facilitate the inclusion of local foods into school meals programs (e.g., National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program).

The Local Food for Schools (LFS) Cooperative Agreement Program award of approximately $3 million will facilitate procurement, distribution and/or storage of local foods in Maryland. This is intended to expand local markets, with an emphasis on purchasing from historically underserved producers. The LFS project will build on existing initiatives by providing support to LEAs via grants for procurement from local, small and socially disadvantaged producers. The criteria for grant awards will also include provisions to address barriers to procurement among these producers that may be caused by distribution and or storage challenges.

The OSCNP will collaborate with the Maryland Department of Agriculture, University of Maryland Eastern Shore, University of Maryland Extension, Future Harvest and others to identify and connect schools with small and socially disadvantaged producers and to provide technical assistance to the producers.

By working with LEAs and producers, it is expected that the LFS project will facilitate additional sustainable distribution channels for providing local foods to schools beyond the grant period. It is also expected that the participation of non-traditional producers in providing meals to Maryland school children will increase equity in local school food procurement