Vermont farmers aiding schools in fight against food insecurity

Hartland Elementary School Taking on Food Insecurity with New Portable Menu Options

Dairy on the Go Grants from Vermont Dairy Farmers Support School Feeding Programs Across the Region

Vermont Business Magazine National feeding programs project that 42 million people, including 13 million children, may experience food insecurity in 2021. It’s why Vermont dairy farmers, through New England Dairy, have awarded a $2,450 grant to Hartland Elementary. This round of funding is helping the school upgrade equipment to offer new and unique foods that include nutritious milk and other dairy items on the menus for years to come. This grant aids school nutrition staff in overcoming the challenges they face to feed students.

More than 30 million students rely on school meals for a significant portion of their daily nutrition. The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed children’s food insecurity to its highest levels in decades. But school nutrition staffers across New England are fighting back.

In the Green Mountain State, more schools are offering smoothies made with milk yogurt, fruit, and sometimes greens, as smoothies are a great portable menu option that can be eaten in the cafeteria, classroom, or on the go.

At Hartland Elementary, the Dairy on the Go grant is being used to purchase blenders to better promote dairy in school meals with smoothies. Craig Locarno, Windsor Southeast Supervisory Union Food Service Director, says, “When students are able to see and access a product that is new and exciting, I believe it is a win for everyone. Dairy is big part of the Hartland Community and school meals program, with active dairy farms and farmers that teach, lead, and participate in many school activities.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, 124,000 US schools closed in-classroom learning, yet 95 percent engaged in emergency assistance to continue providing meals to students outside of school – and these efforts continue in 2021. One in six kids lived in food insecurity leading into the pandemic. Now, that statistic is closer to one in four. As schools look for opportunities to re-engage with students in the classroom, or through hybrid-models, nutrition has and will remain a focal point for student success.

New England Dairy and Vermont dairy farm families have been supporting local schools for more than a century. Dairy farms are the heartbeat of many communities throughout New England, creating jobs, investing in the local economy, and supporting childhood health and education. Milk and other dairy foods can play an important role in overall health and wellness. Eating three daily servings of dairy foods like milk, cheese, or yogurt can help close key nutrient gaps and contribute to nutrient-rich, healthy eating patterns. Milk provides a unique package of nine essential nutrients including calcium, potassium and Vitamin D – a nutritional powerhouse for families and students.

Having reliable access to school food has been a major boon for families who rely on school meals to maintain their household budgets – a testament to the hard work of school nutrition and feeding program staff members.

School meals have been free to all students in most schools during the 2020-2021 school year. The efforts of local school nutrition staffers are critical in keeping students and families fed during these uncertain times. You can help by having your child eat school meals whether they are in the building or learning from home. More participation means more important funding.

About New England Dairy

New England Dairy’s mission is to champion the region’s farm families and the nutritious foods they produce. The non-profit organization does this by sharing the New England dairy story, connecting people to dairy farms, supporting youth wellness in schools and delivering the latest nutrition and sustainability science to health professionals, scientists, media, nutrition professionals and educators. Learn more at NewEnglandDairy.com.

Source: (Hartland, VT) – New England Dairy 6.22.2021