EWSD Benefits from Local Food Purchasing Incentive Grant
January 15, 2022
In 2021, the Vermont Legislature passed and Governor Scott enacted a bill that established a new Local Food Purchasing Incentive Grant for schools. This new program provides a direct financial incentive to school districts and supervisory unions that meet local purchasing targets in their school meal programs, allowing them to serve more fresh Vermont food on their menus.
The new program creates a tiered incentive for schools, allowing schools to ramp up their local purchasing by providing 15¢ per lunch for 15% local food purchased, 20¢ for 20%, and 25¢ for 25%. The program uses the definition of Vermont local, developed by the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets, adopted in Act129 of 2020.
The EWSD Farm to School and Child Nutrition Program advocated actively for the passage of this law, believing strongly that high quality, nutritious food, from local sources make our kids and communities healthier. In anticipating a program such as this and in response to overwhelming family feedback, the EWSD Farm to School and Child Nutrition Program reimagined its operations to emphasize more scratch cooking, fresh baked goods, and of course, more locally sourced foods.
In this baseline year for the Local Foods Incentive Grant, the State will be awarding $0.15 per lunch served during SY 20-21, as funding allows. For the current grant year (2022), $500,000 has been appropriated to the Local Foods Incentive by the State Legislature.
With grant applications due later this month, the EWSD Farm to School and Child Nutrition Program is pleased to be recognized as having the most lunches served during the 2020-21 school year in the entire state of Vermont - 363,995! This tremendous work puts the EWSD in the running for the highest possible grant award later this winter.
It’s clear from any perspective that the Local Food Purchasing Incentive program is a win-win. Our District can continue to support our students with great food, our local producers with consistent and reliable purchasing, and our State as a whole by strengthening our agricultural and manufacturing economy.