Eight Lassen county, and one Plumas county producer, have been awarded nearly 150k dollars each through a state-funded program to bring food-grown products into the area’s schools. The program is through the USDA, called The CDFA (California Department of Food and Agriculture) Farm to School Incubator Grant. Producers who have projects focused on increasing the production, processing and distribution of nutritious foods for schools were selected through a competitive process. Each producer will also provide hands-on educational opportunities for students that complement their food sales or donations to schools.
Nearly 1.3 million dollars was just awarded to Lassen County producers,s including some you may already know of; Lovestead Farms, LARP, Rustic Rancher, Bensons Humble Homestead, Mile High Mill, and Grain, North State Poultry, and in Plumas, the Lost Sierra Food Project.
Schools with a letter of intent to begin developing the program to offer locally grown food include Shaffer, Johnstonville, and Janesville schools. The Susanville School District had submitted a letter of intent to participate. Yet, the district superintendent Jason Waddel said the schools at this time have a student population that the program cannot support. About 700-800 lunches are served each day between the three schools. Waddel says he “hopes that the program can be successful at some of the smaller schools and that [the program is] a great fit for those smaller kitchens on a limited basis.”
LARP Co-Op CEO, and Janesville school educator, David Teeter shared that the Co-Op is currently working alongside all the schools that are interested in the program and are in the developing stages of determining educational goals the schools have and what LARP can offer each school. Once established, a program will go into effect. Although robust production of products within the schools is not likely to happen from the start of the program, funding will help increase the efforts of the local producers to provide more to the schools.
Mile High Mill and Grain and North State Poultry, run by Tom and Andi Traphagen under their ‘Lassen Grown’ agrotourism venture, are promoting more local producers to take advantage of funding like this to build the infrastructure needed to brand Lassen County as a place to buy high-quality products and get children in schools benefitting from what is grown right here in the county.
An additional benefit to the funding for local producers would be to the Farmer’s Markets; as production increases, so will the offerings during the summer markets.
A total of 60 million dollars was awarded to producers throughout the state. In April, funding will be in the hands of these producers to begin their efforts to connect to the school districts and educate students on locally grown produce and their products.