THE FARM to School Program, placing Mississippi produce in local school cafeterias, has grown for the third consecutive year. 2004-05 school year purchases from Mississippi farmers was $416,650, a 45 percent increase from the previous year.

Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce Lester Spell initiated the program in Mississippi in 2003 with the assistance of the Mississippi Department of Education. Through the program, enrolled farmers deliver pre-ordered produce at designated drop areas for payment. The produce is distributed to school districts in Mississippi for consumption in cafeterias.

“This program has provided a new and significant market for fruit and vegetable farmers in Mississippi,” Spell stated. “In only two years, Mississippi farmers have collected about $800,000, and students of Mississippi schools have benefitted by having tasty, nutritious vegetables grown right here in Mississippi.”