Effingham Co. School District participating in local food program

Published: Aug. 25, 2023 at 3:44 PM EDT
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EFFINGHAM COUNTY, Ga. (WTOC) - Georgia is partnering with the U.S. Department of Agriculture for its Local Food for School Program.

This year, Effingham County is taking part.

From farms to school lunch tables, Effingham County’s school nutrition director said they’re teaming up with local farmers and producers to bring some of their fresh produce directly into the schools.

“We know it’s going to cost more locally than buying bulk wholesale, but at the same time you’re helping your community, you’re providing a better product,” School Nutrition Director Jessica O’Leary said.

Last week, the Local Food for School Program hit the ground running. State funds are allowing the Effingham County School District to buy food locally and serve it to students.

O’Leary said around 10 vendors have already reached out. She said she hopes to keep expanding from there.

For food to qualify, she says it can’t be processed or premade. Instead, looking for items like cheese, raw ground beef, fruits, and vegetables.

O’Leary said they will take any amount of food a local company can produce, so they don’t have to worry if they can’t supply every single school.

O’Leary says the program not only adds more food options but helps Effingham’s economy.

“It lets students know, this is the farm that this particular item came from, this is local to you. That way, maybe you’ll purchase from them on your own and just kind of help out our community in that way,” School Nutrition Director Jessica O’Leary said.