When your kids get their school lunches, sometimes it's hard to know where that food is coming from. But the state Departments of Agriculture and Education have kicked off a statewide Farm to School initiative at Preston High School, which provides locally grown food for the students. It also gives 50 cents to the dollar in reimbursements back to the schools for local farms, and reimburses 100 percent if it's student grown products.
Almost every meal provided for lunch at Preston High School this Friday was locally grown.
"Well the good thing is we didn't have to change the menu we just changed the source of where we got the product," said Charlene Strahin, the Preston County Coordinator of Child Nutrition. "So normally we sell Salisbury steak, and so we got the local beef, made it from scratch and the potatoes. And the rolls were done for us."
The cantaloupe, the broccoli, and even the salads were also locally grown.
State, county, and education officials took part in the "West Virginia Grown" luncheon to kick off the Farm to School Initiative.
"Preston County is one of the premier counties in West Virginia in growing capability, and they've proven themselves over the years," said Walt Helmick, the West Virginia Commissioner of Agriculture. "They have the capability of both the meat products being produced here at the present time, and also the capability of growing all the road crops."
Most of the staff agrees that it's a great way to help the local community.
"There's a lot of money spent on food and even though counties are reimbursed for that certain amount, its still money that could go back into the local economy," said Bekki Leigh, from the West Virginia Department of Education Office of Child Nutrition. "So it's a business opportunity and it's a way for counties to reinvest in their own communities."
There is one thing that Charlene Strahin said would make things a little bit easier. Farmers could create a co-operative or aggregate.
"I could call one place and say, 'This is what we need today what can you supply?' And then they can disperse it. Right now, we're doing a lot of extra work because one farmer supplies broccoli, another one supplied tomatoes," Strahin said.
Preston High plans to have West Virginia-grown products on the menu every day this year.