Y-K school districts look into Alaska grown foods

by Sophie Evan on September 17, 2012

School districts in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta are interested in getting Alaskan grown food onto school menus through a one-year state funded pilot program. The program, “Nutritional Alaskan Foods in Schools” is just in its first year, with over 50 school districts splitting $3 million.

The Alaska Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development will reimburse districts for the Alaskan food they buy up to a set amount. Food products eligible for the program including finfish and shellfish harvested in Alaska waters, livestock raised in Alaska, milk produced from livestock raised in Alaska, native produce and grains harvested in Alaska.

School Districts in the Y-K Delta region are planning to take advantage of the state’s new school lunch program funding. Most are just learning how the program works and what vendors they can use.

The Lower Kuskokwim School District is eligible to receive a little over $83,000 this year. Superintendent Gary Baldwin says they are planning to take advantage of the program, but they are still in the process of researching where to purchase the local food.

The Kuspuk school district is eligible for $35,000. According to staff in the district office in Aniak, they are excited about the program and were in the process of researching possible vendors.

Yupiit School District Superintendent Howard Dimond says they hope to utilize local resources for the program using their $36,000. Dimond says since the program is new, he expects that during their yearly superintendents’ meeting this winter, the district leaders will share information about where to buy the local foods.

The Kashunamiut School District in Chevak is eligible for $33,000; the Lower Yukon School District $59,000 and Saint Mary’s can get $31,000.

The Alaska Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development has been holding webinars about the new pilot program and the next one is scheduled for Wednesday, September 19th. Details about the webinars and the new pilot program can be found on the Alaska Department of Commerce website.

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