Office of the Superintendent

Superintendent Denise Juneau Urges Congress to Support Farm to School Programs

Thursday, April 1, 2010, 1:46 pm

On the heels of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack’s visit to Montana, Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau was in Washington D.C. this week to voice her support for local Farm to School programs to Montana’s congressional delegation.  Farm to School programs educate students about the interconnection of food, nutrition, and agriculture, and encourage them to eat more fruits and vegetables and make healthier food choices.

"Agriculture is the state’s largest industry," said Juneau. "Schools can also provide a substantial and consistent market for local farmers and ranchers, which support our rural communities. My goal is to help empower our delegation to go in and talk about this issue."

Farm-to-School programs are popping up in Montana's urban and rural schools, and full funding for this grant program could provide solutions to infrastructure problems like storage, transportation, food preparation, and technical training.

There are more than forty school gardens in Montana, and a well-funded Farm to School grant program could help to increase this amount and to develop experiential curriculum to turn those gardens into classrooms. 

According to a report by the National Center for Appropriate Technology, Montana’s public institutions spent approximately $33 million on food in fiscal year 2004/2005, including $19 million in K12 schools food purchases. A 10 percent increase by value of Montana-produced
food purchased by Montana's institutions would bring almost $5 million directly into the state's economy. These opportunities are particularly significant for rural areas in Montana which face severe economic development needs.

"Farm to School programs have something for everyone because they can improve learning, nutrition, and local economies," said Juneau. "Community-based agriculture has the potential for creating jobs, developing small business entrepreneurships and keeping precious dollars in the community."

Juneau also be speaking with Montana’s congressional delegation about how federal school reform proposals will impact rural, frontier states like Montana and participated in a meeting of the Conference of Chief State School Officers, the organization of State School Superintendents across the U.S.

For more information, contact Jessica Rhoades, 406.444.3160