NMPED Provides $332K In School Nutrition Grants

NMPED Secretary Ryan Stewart

NMPED News:

SANTA FE — The New Mexico Public Education Department has awarded 53 grants to school districts across the state to expand programs that purchase food directly from local farmers, food hubs or cooperatives and distributors.

The grants, which total $332,000, align with the department’s and the Student Success and Wellness Bureau’s goal of ensuring that New Mexico children have access to high-quality, healthful school meals. The announcement coincides with National Farm to School Month, which celebrates the importance of fresh, local foods in school-based feeding programs.

Since schools closed in March, student nutrition professionals have prepared more than 15 million meals for hungry students and families across New Mexico. 

In the 2020-2021 school year, 25 percent of New Mexico school districts – serving more than 183,318 students every day – are purchasing locally grown fruits and vegetables for their student nutrition programs through the New Mexico Grown Program.

“New Mexico’s student nutrition professionals are helping to build healthy communities throughout our state, and I’m proud of the dedication they’ve shown to our students and families, especially during this health emergency,” NMPED Secretary Ryan Stewart said. “They are on the front lines in New Mexico’s battle against hunger, while also supporting the state’s agriculture industry, and I couldn’t be more grateful for their tremendous contributions.” 

Farm to school, a strategy that connects locally produced fruits, vegetables, grains and proteins with New Mexico students, is more important now than ever.

“Serving kids the freshest and highest quality ingredients we can find, sourcing local and school-grown produce to assure that meals are fresh and healthy is the school’s duty to students and families in need,” said Mica Chavez, Monte Del Sol Charter School’s food service director. 

Marie Johnson, Farmington Municipal School District’s food service director, said farm to school programs benefit both children and the local economy. “For us, doing our part to sustain our local economy by purchasing locally grown is a no brainer and a win-win for everyone: kids, farmers, and our community,” Johnson said. 

In Farmington and Santa Fe, as in many school districts across New Mexico, families will receive locally grown apples, pears, leafy greens and corn-on-the-cob fresh from the field to the grab-and-go school tray.

For questions about the Student Success & Wellness Bureau’s Farm to School Program, or to set up interviews with the PED’s food service “heroes”, Contact Kendal Chavez at kendal.chavez@state.nm.us or (505).819.1984, and visit the New Mexico Farm to School Page.

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