NEGAUNEE, Mich. — Negaunee High School’s Environmental Science Class has been awarded a $2,000 grant to support a project that will bring more local food into the lunch room. After meeting with farmers and food service to better understand their local food system, students designed a project that will provide hydroponic greens like spinach, kale and lettuce to school lunches.
This is one step in a larger plan to provide more access to fresh, locally grown options at the school. Students will work together with farmers and food service to provide education and information to their school community about locally sourced food that is purchased through the 10 Cents a Meal program through the UP Food Exchange, an online food hub. Additionally, this initiative deepens relationships between the school and area farms, which will host students for farm tours and leadership activities in the spring.
“This project was very important to us because we are creating an example of how other schools can incorporate locally grown foods into school lunches,” said Hunter Mikkola.
Izzy Kantola said that she is excited to be a part of this change and is eager to see how it impacts the students at NHS. Even though the grant does not cover the entire cost of the hydroponics system, the environmental science students will continue to write other grants and fundraise in order to obtain the additional funds needed.
According to Annabelle Beebe, “This project has made us better problem solvers and allowed us to explore many opportunities we would not have otherwise without the funding from MSU.”
Producing and purchasing more local foods to serve in schools is the major goal of the project. As core components of farm to school, local food production and procurement supports farmers in the community and expands the variety of healthy food choices for students.
Project partners on this USDA Food and Agriculture Service Learning Program grant include Michigan State University Department of Community Sustainability, Michigan State University Upper Peninsula Research and Extension Center,Negaunee Public Schools, Marquette Alger RESA, Little Parsley Farm, and Chartwells.
— Michigan State University, Upper Peninsula Research and Extension Center