By Secretary Buddy Hance, Maryland Secretary of Agriculture
This week kicks off our 5th annual Maryland Homegrown School Lunch Program–an initiative signed into law by Governor Martin O’Malley in 2008–designed to connect our local farmers with local schools, providing our students with healthy, nutritious meals while strengthening our agricultural economy.
By bringing more Maryland-grown products to school lunches, we help educate our students about the sources of their food, how it’s produced and the benefits of a healthy diet. At the same time, we strengthen our agricultural economy, create jobs and keep local dollars in our local economies.
I’m pleased to share that Maryland was the first in the nation to have every county school system participate in the Farm to School program. Over the past five years, statewide, the program has grown with overwhelming success and shows great promise for the future. This year nearly 50 different Maryland farms are providing fresh, local food for Maryland school lunches. It is a true example of a successful federal, state, local and private collaboration that is working together and moving Maryland forward.
Today, I am visiting North Dorchester High School in Hurlock where the students will be the first on the East Coast to enjoy bison burgers for school lunches, along with local sweet potatoes. Throughout the week, Dorchester County students will also enjoy Maryland apples, tomatoes and watermelon.
Including local food in school lunches and related information in the classroom is good for our students and good for Maryland. We encourage students and parents to continue asking for fresh, local produce in school lunches. For more information about the program, including educational materials, menus, places to find local products, brief video soundbook with photos and interviews, plus much more for parents, teachers, and food service staff, visit: www.marylandfarmtoschool.org.
Together, we can build a stronger, more sustainable future for our children.
Martin O'Malley is the governor of Maryland. He writes a regular blog for his official website.