WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) announced it has signed a cooperative agreement with Massachusetts for more than $3.5 million to increase their purchase of nutritious, local foods for school meal programs.
Through the Local Food for Schools Cooperative Agreement Program (LFS), the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) will purchase and distribute local and regional foods and beverages for schools to serve children through the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs. These products will be healthy and unique to their geographic area, with the goal of improving child nutrition and building new relationships between schools and local farmers.
“This cooperative agreement supporting Massachusetts schools is another example of how USDA is working to build a more resilient food system rooted in local and regional production,” said USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Jenny Lester Moffitt. “The Local Food for Schools Cooperative Agreement Program provides an opportunity for states to strengthen ties between local farmers, ranchers, food businesses and schools, and gives students access to nutritious foods unique to the area they live in, building stronger connections across local communities.”
“Strengthening relationships between local producers and schools is a long-term strategy to ensure our children always have access to nutritious foods in school, a win-win for child health and American agriculture,” said Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services Stacy Dean. “Through this program and many other efforts to support the school meal programs, USDA is committed to giving schools the tools they need to set children up to learn, grow, and thrive.”
With the LFS funds, DESE will partner with Massachusetts Farm to School to increase the capacity for School Food Authorities (SFA) administering the National School Lunch Program to procure local unprocessed or minimally processed foods to service in school meals and snacks. The goal of this initiative is to expand the capacity for procuring and providing local foods to schools, strengthening local food systems, and improving meal quality for children.
“The Local Food for Schools funds will help school nutrition professionals support a diverse local food system and create more opportunities for farmers in the region to grow, harvest and distribute healthy ingredients to schools across the Commonwealth,” said Jeffrey C. Riley, Massachusetts commissioner of elementary and secondary education. “We thank the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service for this new and substantial investment in Massachusetts farms and students.”
The LFS cooperative agreements will allow organizations the flexibility to design food purchasing programs and establish partnerships with farmers and ranchers that best suit their local needs, accommodate environmental and climate conditions, account for seasonal harvests, improve supply chain resiliency and meet the needs of schools within their service area. Additionally, the program will provide more opportunities for historically underserved producers and processors to sell their products. Local Food for Schools Cooperative Agreement Program is authorized by the Commodity Credit Corporation Charter Act. AMS looks forward to continuing to sign agreements under this innovative program.
The Local Food for Schools cooperative agreement program is one of many ways USDA is supporting school meal programs this school year and transforming our food system in the long term.
For more information on USDA’s work to support school meal programs, visit USDA Support for School Meals page.
For more information on USDA’s efforts to transform our food system, visit Build Back Better page.
USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, lowering costs for American families, creating fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy, and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.