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U.P. school brings local food to lunchroom

EBEN JUNCTION — Superior Central School District’s Agriculture and Forestry class has been awarded a $2,000 grant to support a project that will bring more local food into the lunch room. After meeting with farmers and food service to better understand their local food system, students designed a project that will provide school-grown food for the school lunch program through innovative projects that capture passive heat for extending the growing season in their hoop house and utilizes indoor growing space.

Superior Central has been growing food at the school since 2012. “I, along with the rest of my classmates, are very excited to work and make adjustments to our school in order to be able to provide fresh local produce almost all year round,” says student Clara Rondeau. With this project, they will be able to increase the number of days in the school year that locally fresh produce is available.

Students will work together with farmers and food service to provide education and information to their school community about locally sourced food that is purchased through the 10 Cents a Meal program and the UP Food Exchange, an online food hub. Student Neo Wilson, part of the Liberty Farms and Flour Mill family, says, “I like the idea that the projects we are building will continue to increase the amount of local food used in our school.” Additionally, this initiative deepens relationships between the school and area farms, which will host students for farm tours and leadership activities in the spring. Student Eli Penney stated that “I felt satisfied working on this project with my fellow students. Gaining experience in grant writing, teamwork and leadership.”

Producing and purchasing more local foods to serve in schools is the major goal of the project. As core components of farm to school, local food production and procurement supports farmers in the community and expands the variety of healthy food choices for students. According to student Paavo Manisto, “During the course of this project I learned many things about agriculture. Which shifted my perspective on things and made me want to buy and produce locally grown foods.”

Project partners on this USDA Food and Agriculture Service Learning Program grant include Michigan State University Department of Community Sustainability, Michigan State University Upper Peninsula Research and Extension Center, Superior Central Schools, Marquette Alger RESA, and Full Plate Farm.

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