Murfreesboro City Schools (MCS) is pleased to announce that it is one of only two school districts in Tennessee and one of 126 projects across the United States receiving support this year through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farm to School Program.
MCS received a $100,000, two-year implementation grant to enrich the connection students have with fresh, healthy food and allow students to experience the growing cycle of their food first hand.
"Our aim is to consistently acquire locally or regionally sourced foods for our cafeterias and make it the norm for our students to receive a variety of freshly harvested vegetables to develop healthy eating habits," say Sandy Scheele, Supervisor of Nutrition.
"This grant will continue the Farm2School program established in 2014 and allow us to grow together, not only seed to table, but also in knowledge of farming including introducing hydroponics," added Scheele.
The MCS Farm to School Program includes community partners like MTSU Department of Agriculture, Farm Credit Mid-America, UT-TSU Extension and the Rutherford County Health Department.
In a press release from the USDA, Secretary Perdue stated, "The farm to school grants announced connect schools with the farmers, ranchers, and producers in their communities. Everybody wins with Farm to School. USDA is proud to help the next generation better understand where its food comes from, while strengthening local economies."
The MCS Farm 2 School program will continue to include applied learning and STEM opportunities like farm Saturdays, field trips, raised bed gardening, and greenhouses at school sites. A Farm Educator will work with teachers and students throughout the school year to add a hands-on approach to the Farm to School curriculum. Additionally, Farm 2 School will introduce hydroponic tower gardens in each school cafeteria to increase the harvest of fresh vegetables.
In the second year of the grant cycle, Farm Bots will be introduced into the program as a STEM-based learning and research tool adding opportunities for collaboration, critical thinking and theories in the planting and harvesting process.
In the announcement, USDA Director of Grants and Fiscal Policy, stated: "Hundreds of applicants across the country competed for a limited amount of funding. The overwhelming interest in this round of USDA Farm to School Grants was exciting but also made the selection process extremely difficult. Your application stood out because it demonstrated your strong experience and readiness to conduct farm to school initiatives; showed that you are thinking critically about opportunities and challenges; outlined goals that are closely aligned with FNS goals for the program; proposed a reasonable scope and budget; and gave us confidence that your farm to school program will be implemented with or without continued Federal support.