State program encourages locally grown produce in school meals

ROCK HILL, SC (WBTV) - In recent years, school lunchrooms have been overhauled. Some schools axing soda, chocolate milk and limiting extra salt and sugar.

But now South Carolina lawmakers want to take it a step further. A new bill would create a state program to encourage schools to use only locally grown produce.

At Northwestern High School in Rock Hill, there are a lot of hungry students and throughout the Rock Hill school district to feed.

South Carolina law makers want to encourage schools to put more local produce in student's bellies. Sam Hall at the Bush n Vine farm says the spring crop is looking good and to have a buyer the size of a school district would be good.

"It would help out the local economy majorly," said Hall.

The Rock Hill school district Food Services Director Chad Mitchell says the district food supplier gets most produce from regional farmers.

"For example all of our apples come from Hendersonville, North Carolina," said Mitchell.

Mitchell says the district would be more apt to buy from local farmers, but the farm would have to grow the volume of produce needed and, everything needed may not be in season.

"School is in season August to May and most fresh produce comes in May to August," Mitchell says.

Hall says if given enough time, local farmers could fill a district's grocery list.

The federal government started a Farm to School program to try and get local produce into school.  Currently, only one school district in South Carolina is participating in that program.

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