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Mar 22, 2010 9:06 PM by Mark Holyoak

Montana's Farm to School program in D.C. spotlight

WASHINGTON DC -- Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau is in Washington D.C. to voice support for a program popping up all over Montana. The Farm to School program educates students about how agriculture is connected to food and nutrition. It also encourages children to make healthier food choices by eating more fruits and vegetables.

"Agriculture is the state's largest industry," said Juneau. "Schools can also provide a substantial and consistent market for local farmers and ranchers, which support our rural communities. My goal is to help empower our delegation to go in and talk about this issue." There are more than forth school gardens in Montana, and Juneau believes a well-funded Farm to School program could help increase the number of programs and develop curriculum to turn those gardens into classrooms. She also plans to meet with each member of Montana's congressional delegation to push the program.

The Senate agriculture committee will be marking up the Child Nutrition Act for 2010 this Wednesday. Senator Max Baucus serves on the agriculture committee. The current bill includes $25 million in funding for Farm to School grant programs but farmers and farm-to-school advocates are asking for an increased appropriation of $50 million.

"Farm to School programs have something for everyone because they can improve learning, nutrition, and local economies," said Juneau. "Community-based agriculture has the potential for creating jobs, developing small business entrepreneurships and keeping precious dollars in the community."

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