LETTER TO THE EDITOR:
We would like to extend our congratulations to school food and nutrition services directors throughout Maryland. Thanks to their overwhelming support and enthusiasm, all of our 24 public school systems participated in the 2nd annual Maryland Homegrown School Lunch Week (Sept. 14-18). This exciting week is part of the Farm to School Program which is designed to bring more Maryland-grown products to school lunches and to help educate students about the source of their food, how it is produced, and the benefits of a healthy diet.
Thank you to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for taking the opportunity to announce at our kick-off event their new Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food campaign. It holds promise to help break down structural barriers that have inhibited local food systems from thriving.
Imagine the tremendous impact on our families and our communities if even one local item is included in school lunches for each of the 950,000 Maryland public school students. Farmers would have additional income, thereby strengthening the local economy and keeping farm land open and productive. Our children would receive the nutritional benefits of fresh, local products as well as the knowledge of why this matters. And, the financial, environmental, and nutritional costs of transporting food would decrease.
We understand that it is not an easy job to provide a good, nutritious meal at a low cost. Including local food in school lunches and related information in the classroom is good for our students and good for Maryland. We encourage students and parents to support their local food and nutrition service directors, participate in the school meals programs, and continue asking year-round for fresh, local produce in school lunches in addition to the variety of bread, meat and cheese produced in Maryland. For more information about the program, visit: http://www.marylandfarmtoschool.org/ .
Secretary, Maryland Department of Agriculture
50 Harry S. Truman Pkwy
Annapolis, MD 21401
Nancy S. Grasmick
State Superintendent of Schools
200 West Baltimore Street
Baltimore, MD 21201