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Cleveland Metropolitan School District and the FPC Explore School Gardening and Local Procurement for the Farm to School Initiative
Members of diverse community organizations met earlier this month on a sunny August morning to discuss the expansion of school gardening at Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) schools. CMSD teachers and gardeners met with individuals representing the Cleveland Botanical Gardens, City of Cleveland, Cleveland State University, Veggie-U, Mount Sinai Healthcare Foundation, Ohio State University Extension, and the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Food Policy Coalition as a collaboration between the Healthy Cleveland Initiative’s Healthy Eating Subgroup, and the CMSD Farm to School initiative. The group met to identify challenges of starting and maintaining a school garden, as well as the various community partners and resources that could collaborate to help a school garden project thrive. The group has since been working on outlining a sample garden budget, and plans to begin creating a strategic plan for CMSD school gardens in the weeks to come.
In addition to school gardening, the FPC and CMSD have been exploring what the potential and possibilities of the Farm to School initiative mean for their food procurement. The Farm to School project aims to increase local procurement of food by CMSD schools in order to bolster the local economy, improve the health and nutrition of school food service programs, and educate students about healthy eating. The first step of the project has been to assess the current state of CMSD procurement, in order to analyze opportunities for improvement. Data analysis of past CMSD procurement has revealed a varied set of vendors, ranging from international food service distributors sourcing commodity foods, to Cleveland-based food distributors serving Ohio produced foods. The CMSD Farm to School Advisory Committee plans to outline their specific goals and long-term vision for CMSD’s local procurement in the coming months. The final implementation plan for Farm to School is slated to be complete by December of 2013.