In the past year alone we’ve seen some terrible news about school lunches. From insane pink slime, to bizarre food regulations to lackluster food changes way too long in the making, it sometimes seems like there’s no good school lunch news to be had. Until now that is. The USDA will be improving their farm to school lunch programs nationwide, which means it’s much more likely that your kids will be getting tastier and more nutritious school lunches. Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan announced this week that USDA will be investing more funds in farm to school programs across the country in order to help improve the health and wellbeing of their students, as well as support connections with local agricultural producers. The Farm to School Grant Program is one of the USDA’s most innovative food programs and part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. Through grants and technical assistance, this program helps to implement farm to school food programs that improve access to local foods in eligible schools. The brand new investments will help schools find and purchase food from local producers, and some farm to school initiatives will also include agriculture and nutrition education efforts such as school gardens, field trips to local farms and cooking classes.

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(Image: Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan tours a school garden during Farm to School Month in October 2011)

Deputy Secretary Merrigan says, “School cafeterias are great places to champion U.S. agriculture and to teach students where their food comes from. More and more, schools are connecting with their local farmers, ranchers and food businesses each day and these programs are a great way to bring more local offerings into school cafeterias and support U.S. producers as well. As we struggle with obesity and associated diet related diseases, farm to school programs give us one important tool to help our kids make lifelong healthy eating choices.” Grants ($5 million in all) to support of expanded farm to school food programs are administered by USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS). Schools who may be eligible and want to participate will need to submit grant proposals by June 15, 2012. If you’d like to learn more about this program or gather information to hand off to your child’s school, visit the USDA Farm to School website. Isn’t it nice to hear some good news for a change?!

All Images by Flickr User USDAgov