AUSTIN (October 3, 2016) – Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller today announced that October 1 marked the start of the Texas Department of Agriculture’s (TDA) annual Local Products Challenge. The month-long event encourages Texas schools to incorporate more local products into school meals and teach children about the healthy foods produced in the Lone Star State. More than 140 school districts and charter schools have pledged participation in the 2016 challenge. Participating schools will earn TDA recognition and provide more than 2 million Texas children with increased access to local foods and Texas agriculture.
“The Local Products Challenge is not only about fruits and vegetables, it’s about encouraging schools to serve healthy meals and teach children about where their food comes from,” Commissioner Miller said. “This challenge encourages schools to serve locally grown and raised food across the school meal tray, including Texas grains, beans, dairy products and lean meats. It’s good for young kids to try local foods, and this challenge gives them the opportunity to do just that.”
The annual Local Products Challenge supports TDA’s goal of increasing the amount of farm fresh purchases made by partners in federal nutrition programs administered by TDA. The event has grown each year, from 37 participants during the inaugural challenge in 2013 to more than 140 this year. Challenge participants regularly report continuing to buy more Texas products after the challenge is over. This means Texas students are enjoying more local products in school meals all year long.
Participating schools get access to TDA materials to promote local foods and strengthen connections with local agricultural producers. When students enjoy nutritious school meals made with Texas products, they develop healthy habits that can benefit entire communities. It has been shown that for every $1 spent on local food, $2.16 of economic activity is generated.
The Local Products Challenge is just one of the many ways TDA supports local economies and efforts to grow smart, active and strong leaders. For more information, visit SquareMeals.org/LocalProductsChallenge.