More seafood to be served in Massachusetts schools
More seafood will be served as part of school lunches in Massachusetts, as the Massachusetts Farm to School Project expands to include seafood.
The Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF)’s Massachusetts Seafood Marketing Program is partnering with the nonprofit Massachusetts Farm to School Project to promote the consumption of local seafood in schools.
“The Massachusetts commercial fishing and seafood industries provide delicious food and employment for thousands of people in the Commonwealth,” Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker said in a statement. “This is a great connection to make and we look forward to the partnership between Massachusetts fishermen and farm-to-school programs to provide the Commonwealth’s children with fresh, nutritious seafood products that support cognitive development.”
During the two-year partnership, the partners will promote seafood as part of Massachusetts Farm to School’s Massachusetts Harvest of the Month campaign and hold a series of local seafood cooking demonstrations for institutional food service providers. The Harvest of the Month campaign is expected to translate into at least 800,000 servings of local seafood during the month of May, according to Simca Horwitz, eastern Massachusetts director of the Massachusetts Farm to School Project.
“Over 150 K-12 schools, colleges, and hospitals in Massachusetts are participating in the campaign,” Horwitz said. “We hope this can be the starting point for sustained purchases of local seafood by institutions across the Commonwealth.”
The two will also offer a seafood focus track at the Massachusetts Farm & Sea to Cafeteria Conference in November 2016.
“Increasing sales of local seafood to schools will not only help find new markets for Massachusetts fishermen, but will also address the critical issue of access to healthy food, and introduce future consumers to the benefits of incorporating seafood into their diet,” Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton said.
Gov. Baker launched the Massachusetts Seafood Marketing Program in August 2016 to increase awareness and demand for local seafood products and support Massachusetts’ fishing and seafood industries.
Massachusetts Farm to School is a statewide organization that strengthens the connections that communities have with fresh, healthy food and local food producers by influencing food purchasing and education practices at schools. In October 2016, Governor Baker declared October as Massachusetts Farm to School Month to support Massachusetts’ farm to school programs and the Massachusetts agricultural industry.
The Farm to School program has been “immensely successful” in Massachusetts and including “locally sourced seafood into the mix is a necessary and welcome progression,” said State Representative Paul Schmid III (D-Westport), House Chair of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture.