Delaware’s Congressional Delegation Announces USDA Grant to Colonial School District to connect local students and farmers

WILMINGTON, Del. — Today, U.S. Sens. Tom Carper, Chris Coons, and Representative John Carney (all D-Del.) announced that Colonial School District has been awarded a U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm to School grant to help students connect with local farms and ensure that they have access to healthy foods. 

Colonial School District will receive $100,000 to partner with Historic Penn Farm in New Castle.  Students at William Penn High School will have access to the farmland, and will participate in the entire process of planning, growing, and processing foods.  That food will reach approximately 10,000 students in Colonial School District through its breakfast and lunch programs. 

“Teaching students hands-on skills when it comes to growing and preparing healthy food is a skill that will serve them well over a lifetime,” said Sen. Carper. “It was not that long ago that I toured William Penn and got a chance to see its first-class culinary program. With the addition of this federal grant to help the farm to school table program, it will be even better, serving healthy food choices to nearly 10,000 students. This is a great use of federal dollars and a program I am happy to support.”

“Learning by doing is one of the great pleasures in education,” said Sen. Coons. “Making sure to eat healthy meals every day is challenging and this grant will help students make healthier choices by building nutritional learning into their education. William Penn High School students will gain the hands on experience of not just growing crops, but the experience of planning, growing and processing foods, creating new menus, and placing healthy foods directly into school nutrition programs throughout the district.”

“Colonial School District has put together a very innovative plan that teaches students important lessons in agriculture and business,” said Congressman Carney.  “This partnership with Penn Farm gives students more access to fresh, healthy food, teaches them where that food comes from, and supports the local agriculture industry.  I can’t wait to visit and try some of it myself.” 

Dr. Dusty Blakey, Colonial School District Superintendent, added, “This is a great opportunity to promote career readiness to our students, connecting our Agriculture and Culinary Arts degree programs with our own District Division of Nutrition to promote nutrition in our schools – a true farm to school to table program. In short, William Penn High School will plan, operate and grow crops, bring to our culinary students for food preparation, and sell to our school cafeterias. This grant represents the true food cycle, connecting agriculture to business, all while promoting healthy living styles.”

Colonial School District’s proposal was one of 82 projects selected spanning 42 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands.  According to the USDA, school districts participating in farm to school programs purchased and served over $385 million in local food in school year 2011-2012.