PENNSYLVANIA (WTAJ) – The United States Department of Agriculture announced on Tuesday, Jan. 24 that Pennsylvania will be receiving more than $6,800,000 to increase their purchases of nutritious, local foods for school meal programs.

Through the Local Food for Schools Cooperative Agreement Program (LFS), the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) 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 Pennsylvania schools is another example of how USDA is working to build a more resilient food system rooted in local and regional production,” USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Jenny Lester Moffitt said. “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.”

With the LFS funding, PDA will implement the Pennsylvania Local Food for Schools Cooperative Agreement Program (PA-LFS) to subaward funds to participating School Food Authorities (SFAs) in the state who operate the National School Lunch and/or Breakfast Program to purchase unprocessed or minimally processed local and regional foods from local and regional underserved vendors.

This program will increase sale sales opportunities for the local and regional food system and ensure that SFAs in Pennsylvania are afforded additional resources to feed our school children during these challenging times.

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.

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.

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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.