Statewide Cut Would Likely Not Change Shawano School District Process
In 2009, Wisconsin was one of the first states in the nation to create a full-time farm-to-school coordinator, whose job was to connect local farmers with cafeterias in local schools. Supporters of the program call it a huge success by any measure, but Governor Scott Walker’s proposed budget cuts both the position of farm-to-school coordinator and the advisory council. In the State House, Madison Democrat Melissa Sargent says this proposal is extremely shortsighted.
“Cutting $86,000 a year from our state budget, which is a small amount of the largest budget that has been seen by the state of Wisconsin in our state’s history-the investments of these dollars brings back over $9 million worth of revenue into our communities. ”
Supporters of the cut say the existing program will be absorbed by another state program, the Wisconsin Foods Program, and the cuts will make it a more efficient way to run the program. Sargent and others, including the Wisconsin Farmers Union disagree, saying the farm-to-school program is indispensable in connecting local farmers with school children and what they eat.
Locally, Shawano School District currently participates in the Farm-To-School program and District Food Services Director Sarah Moesch says even if the funding is cut, Shawano has enough support to continue to get fruits and vegetables from local farmers.
“I would still do it anyway” said Moesch. “We get our apples from Everflow Farm in Bonduel and he does that almost every week during season. That was just a personal choice and we work together to get local apples for the children for their fruit and vegetable bar everyday. I still think Shawano would be okay.”
Moesch says she considers local anywhere in Wisconsin. Moesch says the farm-to-school program is also a benefit for education.
“The farmers will come into the classrooms” said Moesch. “They will discuss what they grow and the farming practices and rotating crops”.
As of 2015, more than 150 Wisconsin school districts are participating in the farm-to-school program.