AUSTIN — Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller today announced the start of the Texas Department of Agriculture’s (TDA) annual Farm Fresh Challenge for Texas schools. Schools are encouraged to buy Texas grown foods, teach students about the importance of agriculture, and celebrate their activities on social media. More than 220 school districts and charter school organizations have pledged participation for 2019. The Farm Fresh Challenge takes place at participating National School Lunch Program schools throughout October.
“The Farm Fresh Challenge continues to expand and with each new year it brings more excitement around eating healthy foods from the Lone Star State,” Commissioner Miller said. “Texas agriculture is fundamental when promoting local foods and the challenge has a real impact on students and their communities. The goal is to not only provide locally sourced and healthy meals for school lunches but to pass those healthy lifestyle changes along to students for each meal they choose. I want all Texans to make health conscious decisions that will sustain local economies and build a healthier future for the great state of Texas.”
The annual Farm Fresh Challenge supports TDA’s goal of connecting federal nutrition programs with foods from Texas producers. Children eat over 3 million school lunches each school day in Texas; it is a great opportunity to connect these children to our state’s great agriculture bounty. Schools reported spending about $5.6 million on Texas products in just one month as part of TDA’s 2018 Farm Fresh Challenge.
“In the most recent USDA Farm to School Census, schools in Texas reported investing over $58.6 million on Texas foods in a year,” Commissioner Miller said. “USDA is currently conducting another Farm to School survey and it likely will show that this number has grown.”
Schools participating in the Farm Fresh Challenge get access to TDA resources that encourage students to try local foods and make connections with local agricultural producers. This will be the fifth year Commissioner Miller has invited schools to Eat Local, Teach Local and Be Social. In recent years, TDA has expanded the Farm Fresh Challenge to the Summer Food Service Program and the Child and Adult Care Food Program to introduce even more young Texans to Texas products.
The Farm Fresh Challenge is part of Commissioner Miller’s Farm Fresh Initiative, which supports local economies and efforts to grow strong young leaders for the Lone Star State. For more information and to see who is participating, visit SquareMeals.org/FarmFreshChallenge.
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–Texas Department of Agriculture
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