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JCPS Expects to Increase Local Produce in School Lunches

Several local growers met with Jefferson County Public Schools staff on Thursday to claim some of its $1.7 million dollar produce budget.Last year, the district received 13 percent of its produce from local farmers. This year, the district wants to expand that to 25 percent, said Martha Dysart, the district’s nutrition service center manager. The move is part of JCPS’s three year effort to bring more local produce to over 60,000 student lunches it prepares.“Not only do they have an opportunity to taste something really fresh and that’s grown in their community they also have an opportunity to learn a little more about what they’re eating,” said Dysart.The cost for providing local produce is a little more expensive; Dysart’s best rough estimate is $75,000. But, that amount could decrease, she said.“We’re hoping as we increase the amount that we need and increase the items that we have, we’re hoping that will level off and at least be not anymore than what we paid if we purchase from a local produce vendor,” said Dysart.Local produce vendors may contract with non-local farms, depending on pricing options. Farmers will now offer bids in the next couple months and JCPS will announce winning contracts in January.JCPS defines local produce as anything that comes from within a 150 mile radius from Jefferson County. This includes parts of Indiana, Missouri, Illinois and Tennessee.