USDA To Examine Burlington “Farm To School”

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(Host) Burlington has been chosen by federal officials as an example of how to use locally grown food in school cafeterias.

The U.S. Agriculture Department wants to promote "Farm to School" programs nationwide.

For seven years, Burlington has worked to serve as much locally grown food as possible in its schools.

Doug Davis is the food service director in Burlington.

(Davis) "Just over 30 percent of everything that we buy right now is coming through local or regional channels. A lot of it’s local. But some of it does come from New York state, or Quebec or New Hampshire. But we do try to do it within our 250-mile food shed."

(Host) The USDA is visiting at least nine school districts around the country to learn how they’ve adopted such programs.

Davis says local officials always get nervous when the federal government gets involved in a program they’ve pioneered.

(Davis) "But at the same time, it’s always nice to be at the table writing the rules as opposed to having the rules thrust upon you. And if we can show them some of the things we’ve put in place to make our program efficient, to make our program safe, to show how we are  working with farmers to guarantee a safe transport of food and a safe food chain, I think we’ll be able to have input into how those regulations might be drawn."

(Host) Davis says a team from the USDA is expected to visit Burlington before the end of the school year. One of the things the team hopes to learn is how relationships were developed with individual farmers.

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