Grant provides for more local, fresh produce at Bismarck Public Schools

Published: Jun. 30, 2022 at 9:51 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - More fresh produce will be headed to kids in North Dakota public schools thanks to a local organization and a $200,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

In order to ensure kids are eating fresh produce, Bismarck Public Schools has a farm to school program where they team up with local farmers to provide food for the kids.

“But what they have found is they’re only able to take food that needs very minimal processing or no processing at all. And our farmers don’t have license inspected kitchens to be washing, cutting, slicing, dicing, processing,” said Shirley Reese, general manager of Bismarck/Mandan Community Food Cooperative.

That didn’t sit well with Reese, especially when she heard that the district.

“We didn’t have the staff or the ability to hire enough staff to be processing North Dakota produce for our North Dakota kids,” said Reese.

So, when the co-op was awarded a $200,000 Healthy Food Financing Initiative grant from the USDA, Reese knew exactly how she wanted to allocate that money.

In addition to healthier and fresher food for students: “It’s just a great way for the kids to even have an opportunity to try a wide variety of things that can be raised right here in our own state,” said Reese. “It’s also really important for the farmers because when we look at the opportunity for them to have more consistent sale of the produce that they’re raising off their farms, that means that their lifestyle, their family farming lifestyle is more sustainable.”

Reese hopes the program bears fruit for local students and farmers for years to come.

The Bismarck/Mandan co-op has plans to expand its efforts to deliver fresh, local produce to rural schools throughout the state.

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