Sunny Baker, email@example.com
For Immediate Release
Mississippi Farm to School Network to expand to early childcare, provide more resources to farmers looking to sell to schools
Oxford, Miss – The Mississippi Farm to School Network is growing its efforts to increase the amount of local foods served in cafeterias and education happening in school gardens.
The project is funded by a $750,000 grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation of Battle Creek, Mich.
“Expanding our offerings to early childcare centers and deepening our focus on empowering farmers will result in much healthier Mississippi children and a more robust local agriculture economy,” said Sunny Baker, Co-Director of the Mississippi Farm to School Network. “Local food is better for our bodies and better for our planet. This project will engage school communities, early childcare centers, and farmers to create lasting systems for local procurement and school gardens.”
Efforts will focus in Jackson, Sunflower County, and Biloxi – expanding market access through technical assistance, capacity and relationship building. The Network will grow membership outreach, provide high quality workshops and trainings, and improve technical assistance offerings to schools, early childcare centers, and farmers.
Some program highlights include a Farm to School Institute for select community groups each Summer, a Mississippi Farm to Cafeteria Conference, and the Mississippi Farm to School Week Challenge – encouraging the practice of farm to school from Pascagoula to Senatobia, from the Choctaw Nation to the Delta. The Network will start to build out the long-term goal of being the USA’s state with the best farm to school programs.
“Farm to school is logical practice in Mississippi: it's all about strong communities and good food,” Baker said. “Mississippi is in the perfect position to excel in this field: 70 percent of students get a free/reduced meal, the Delta is the best farm land in the US, investing in ECE means reaching the developmental stage best for establishing good eating habits. Expanding to create new programming directed at early childcare and economic development for farmers will allow us to reach goals and serve as real leaders in this field.”
About the Mississippi Farm to School Network The Mississippi Farm to School Network works to connect farmers with schools in order to bring Mississippi products to school cafeterias. We seek to strengthen the local agricultural economy and educate Mississippians on the importance of eating locally-grown, nutritionally-dense foods. By gathering a diverse community of farm to school advocates, the network strives to reach all students and their families. Mississippi Farm to School Network is Mississippi’s Core Partner for the National Farm to School Network and is a fiscally sponsored project of Earth Island Institute.
About the W.K. Kellogg Foundation The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal pioneer, Will Keith Kellogg, is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States. Guided by the belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive, WKKF works with communities to create conditions for vulnerable children so they can realize their full potential in school, work and life.
The Kellogg Foundation is based in Battle Creek, Michigan, and works throughout the United States and internationally, as well as with sovereign tribes. Special emphasis is paid to priority places where there are high concentrations of poverty and where children face significant barriers to success. WKKF priority places in the U.S. are in Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico and New Orleans; and internationally, are in Mexico and Haiti. For more information, visit www.wkkf.org.