South Euclid-Lyndhurst Schools is pleased to announce that it will be one of 71 projects spanning 42 states and the District of Columbia receiving support this year through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farm to School Program, an effort to better connect school cafeterias and students with local farmers and ranchers. SEL Schools received an approximate $92,000 implementation grant to impact 3,700 students across six schools in the district.
The SEL Students Eating Locally Project has been receiving both local and national attention since its implementation by SEL Director, Chad Welker and Executive Chef, Kevin Needham, as the first district in Northeast Ohio to implement Farm to Fork in September 2010. Working collaboratively with the Cuyahoga County Board of Health and CCBH Project Manager, Alison Patrick, the project now has received over $130,000 in grants from the USDA, Whole Foods, Cuyahoga County Board of Health and the American Dairy Association to fund the project and was named a Model Practice by the National Association of County and City Health Officials. The project represents years of thoughtful planning, securing relationships with a local farm, Red Basket Farms, and implementing the program, all for the enhanced wellness benefits for our students. As a result, each school has a salad bar and menu options featuring the fresh local produce.
“The SEL Schools is proud of the food services program for the many honors that it has received in the past few years,” said District Superintendent Linda N. Reid. “The health and welfare of each of our students is a top priority, and an added comfort is taken in knowing that our internal measures to provide fresh food are recognized on a national level.”
Said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, “In rural and urban communities across the country, farm to school is teaching students where food comes from and how it gets to their plate, and encouraging them to make healthier food choices in the cafeteria and at home.”
SEL Schools will use the implementation funds to finance a new walk in freezer, blast chiller, combi oven, salad spinners, vacuum packaging machine and other kitchen supplies needed to continue to support the Farm to School Program, and some promotional materials for SEL families to encourage eating fresh local produce both at school and at home. The new equipment will allow SEL Schools to provide fresh local produce throughout the entire school year, including the cold winter months of Northeast Ohio.
The Cuyahoga County Board of Health has been an integral partner of the SEL Project. “We are proud to be a partner of the SEL Schools on this transformational work in Cuyahoga County,” states Terry Allan, Health Commissioner at the Cuyahoga County Board of Health. “Eating healthy and eating local improves student performance, stimulates the local economy and is good for the environment. We believe other school districts can learn from this national model.”
Congratulations to the food services program at the SEL Schools for this incredible national honor.