For Immediate Release - September 17, 2012

GOVERNOR PATRICK CELEBRATES MASSACHUSETTS “HARVEST FOR STUDENTS WEEK”

Harvest for Students Week at Milton High School
Governor Patrick speaks at Milton High School where he joined Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rick Sullivan to celebrate Harvest for Students Week. (Photo Credit: Eric Haynes / Governor's Office) View additional photos.

MILTON – Monday, September 17, 2012 – Governor Deval Patrick today joined Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Rick Sullivan to celebrate the 6th annual Massachusetts “Harvest for Students Week” at Milton High School.

Harvest for Students Week gives schools the opportunity to promote local harvest and serve fresh, nutritious meals prepared with foods produced locally by farms in Massachusetts.

“The farm to school movement grows our economy by supporting local farmers and providing nutritious produce to students around the Commonwealth,” said Governor Patrick. “I am proud of our support for the Massachusetts agriculture industry. The 7,500 farms across the Commonwealth contribute in important ways to our economic activity, food security, education, environmental stewardship and open space.”

Harvest for Students Week was established by the Massachusetts Farm to School Project, in collaboration with the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (DAR), the School Nutrition Association of Massachusetts and the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

“This week is such a great way to get young people excited about local agriculture and the health benefits of eating fresh, local foods,” said Secretary Sullivan. “As we work to address the huge problem of diet-related diseases, it is wonderful to know that Massachusetts farms are part of the solution.”

Over the past decade, the farm to school movement has grown in Massachusetts, with the number of public school districts that purchase locally grown foods increasing from 20 in 2004 to more than 260 in 2012. During the 2011 – 2012 school year, more than 100 farms reported they sell directly to school and college cafeterias.

"There’s always an abundance of wonderful locally grown fruits and vegetables during Massachusetts Harvest for Students Week,” said Kelly Erwin, director of the Massachusetts Farm to School Project. “Bringing fresh, locally grown foods into school cafeterias is a very effective way to ensure that students of all ages and circumstances have access to healthy food that tastes good. Farm to School is a win-win-win for Massachusetts students, farmers, and our school food service providers.”

Milton currently serves produce from Lanni Orchards in Lunenberg and produce grown right in Milton by farmer Tim Cook, in partnership with Brookwood Community Farm. Students from Milton High have also embraced work and volunteer opportunities at the non-profit farm, which is dedicated to improving access to local foods and farming education.

“We have seen a real transformation in our food services since we started using local produce. We feel great about the food we are serving and that the students can know where their food comes from and even get involved with the local farms,” said Jackie Morgan, Milton Food Service Director.

DAR’s mission is to ensure the long-term viability of local agriculture in Massachusetts. Through its four divisions – Agricultural Development, Animal Health, Crop and Pest Services, and Technical Assistance – the DAR strives to support, regulate and enhance the Commonwealth’s agricultural community, working to promote economically and environmentally sound food safety and animal health measures, and fulfill agriculture’s role in energy conservation and production. For more information, visit DAR’s website at www.mass.gov/agr, and follow at twitter.com/mdarcommish.

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