Lisa Altmann: Why farmers are important to school meals

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 17, 2022

By Lisa Altmann

The N.C. Farm to School Program was founded in 1997.

N.C. farmers are a tremendous asset to school nutrition programs in N.C. as well as the entire country. They grow a variety of produce that meet the needs of schools. The Farm to School Program is a great opportunity for students to have access to fresh fruits and vegetables during the school day. For a lot of children, the Farm to School Program is the only time they get to experience trying different types of produce.

North Carolina encourages all public school districts to participate in this program. Crops offered throughout the seasons include sweet potatoes, watermelons, strawberries, broccoli, peaches, cabbage, collards, melons, blueberries, apples and many other types of fresh produce. The program also provides many resources for school nutrition operators to enhance the students’ experiences. The resources include how to have school gardens, farm field trips, activity books, recipes, etc.

Farmers play a very important role in school meals. Most children eat with their eyes first, so it is exciting to see them come to our cafeterias and select local fruits and vegetables for lunch. Without our farms, we would not be able to provide the unique culinary experiences to students. The school meal experiences that include Farm to School Program will help children foster healthy eating habits for life.

We are thankful for the partnership with N.C. and local farmers. I am proud to be part of Rowan County’s Food & Farm Network and Healthy Rowan.

Lisa Altmann is the school nutrition services director for Rowan-Salisbury Schools.