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Farm to School to Jobs

Growth in Vermont's food sector might owe some of its success to school kids.

More Vermont students will have the chance to eat fresh and local food next year as part of the Farm to School program.

At a news conference Thursday, Vermont leaders in health, agriculture and education heralded grants that are going to six schools and two supervisory unions to advance the eight year old program (go to bottom of page for schools receiving grants).

The Farm to School program now falls under the umbrella of the Farm to Plate program, created back in 2009. Executive Director of the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund Ellen Kahler says the Farm to School program is helping grow jobs in Vermont through the kids.

“They then go home and tell their parents about all these great recipes and great food that they’ve tried at their schools. Parents then go to supermarkets and say ‘I’d really like to try this kale or rutabaga, what do you have that’s from Vermont,” Kahler said.

In a recent report released by Farm to Plate, 2200 jobs have been created by food entrepreneurs in Vermont since Farm to Plate started in 2009. The Farm to Plate program can’t take direct credit for the growth but Kahler says Farm to Plate doesn’t hurt.

At the NECI on Main in Montpelier there are both jobs and learning opportunities on the front lines of Farm to Table.

Chef Instructor Joni Bales says it’s a bonus to know where the food she cooks comes from.

“We see the farmer pull up in his truck and unload the boxes,” Bales said.

“As a chef you can really tell the difference.”

And that difference was part of her reason for moving to Vermont. Bales previously was a chef at Four Seasons in Philadelphia but jumped at the opportunity to work in Vermont with local food.

“It’s really a good feeling to see that going on at a professional level,” Bales said.

Implementation Grants (up to $20,000)
· Orleans Southwest SU

· Charlotte Central School

· Middletown Springs Elementary School

· Chittenden Central SU

Planning Grants ($5,000)
· Newbury Elementary School

· Walden School

· Barnard Academy

· Vergennes Union High School

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