-St. Paul Public School District Farm to School Program
With 38,500 students, the St. Paul Public School district is the second largest district in Minnesota and a leader in Farm to School innovation. During the first six weeks of the 2009-2010 school year alone, St. Paul Public Schools purchased 110,000 pounds of locally grown produce, primarily from farms in Minnesota and Western Wisconsin. Fifty-six percent of the district's total fresh produce purchases during that period were local products. St. Paul purchases local produce primarily through its distribution/processing partner, an approach that works well for meeting St. Paul?s need for large volumes of pre-cut product. Farm to School offerings slated for the 2009-2010 school year include a dozen fruits and vegetables ranging from tomatoes to watermelon as well as wild rice, bison and other items.
The St. Paul Public Schools, in collaboration with the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), is also a lead player in School Food FOCUS, a national network of large urban school districts. St. Paul is FOCUS' first national ?Learning Lab? pilot, a research and implementation effort aimed at increasing the use of local produce, whole grains, and healthier meat and dairy products in K-12 schools.
In October 2009, the St. Paul Schools, IATP and the Minnesota School Nutrition Association hosted Kathleen Merrigan, Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, to a roundtable at the St. Paul Schools. The event explored the development of Farm to School efforts in St. Paul and across the state of Minnesota. Minnesota?s Farm to School efforts were then highlighted on a national Facebook chat led by Ms. Merrigan shortly after her visit to St. Paul.
The St. Paul Schools and IATP are also working with local partner organizations to explore strategies for sourcing produce grown by local Hmong farmers and for using produce grown in school gardens in the cafeteria.