WASHINGTON, D.C. --  A new agreement will allow more schools to buy locally.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service has signed an agreement to provide almost $3.5 million for Minnesota schools to help buy more food locally.

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USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Jenny Lester Moffitt says it’s a win for local school districts and local producers.

This cooperative agreement supporting Minnesota’s schools is another example of how USDA is working to build a more resilient food system rooted in local and regional production. The Local Food for Schools Cooperative Agreement Program provides an opportunity for states to strengthen ties between local farmers, ranchers, food businesses and schools, and gives students access to nutritious foods unique to the area they live in, building stronger connections across local communities.

The Local Food For Schools program will allow the Minnesota Department of Agriculture to buy and distribute local and regional foods for the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs.

Minnesota Commissioner of Agriculture Thom Petersen said the money will build new partnerships.

This cooperative agreement will build on the strong foundation we’ve laid in Minnesota with a growing network of partners in our Farm to School efforts. More Minnesota schools will have access to reimbursement grants to support local purchasing, which will strengthen our state’s local and regional markets, support small and emerging farmers, and ensure our kids are eating the freshest, most nutritious food our state can offer.

The new programs will allow local schools to design meals and partnerships that best fit their local needs, and provide new avenues for local producers to sell their products.

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