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State of Alaska to launch 'locally grown' school nutrition pilot program

The Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development (DCCED) announced a pilot grant program called "Nutritional Alaskan Foods in Schools." The $3-million program is designed to encourage Alaska school districts to purchase and distribute Alaska Grown foods to their students.  

"The program will help Alaska students benefit by being served locally harvested foods high in nutritional value and quality in school meals.” Commissioner Susan Bell of DCCED said. “It (will) help Alaska build a strong, local and sustainable healthy food system and increase economic development by creating jobs and diversifying the economy.”

The DCCED and its Division of Regional Affairs plan to manage the allowance and distribute the funds to school districts. Each of Alaska's 54 districts are eligible for reimbursements for the purchase of "produce, seafood, or aquatic protein" harvested in Alaska. DCCED's press release explains:

The reimbursement is based on enrollment and the education funding formula, and ranges from $25,000 for small single site school districts, to $210,000 for larger districts such as Matanuska-Susitna Borough or Fairbanks North Star Borough, and up to $642,000 for Anchorage School District.

 The list of qualifying items include: Finfish or shellfish caught or harvested in Alaskan waters, livestock raised in Alaska, milk produced from livestock raised in Alaska, Native produce including fruits, vegetables and berries commercially harvested in Alaska, poultry and poultry products grown in Alaska and grains harvested in Alaska.

For more information about the pilot grant program, including a full set of grant documents and links to Alaska Grown vendors visit DCCED's website here.