PARMA, Ohio - The Cuyahoga County Board of Health's Farm to School partnership received the 2013 Model Practice Award from the National Association of County & City Health Officials for the Students Eating Locally (SEL) project.
The board partnered with South Euclid-Lyndhurst City School District (SELCSD) and Red Basket Farm on the project starting with the 2010-2011 school year.
The goal of the Farm to School partnership is to increase the availability of locally-grown fruits and vegetables for students on their daily lunch menu.
"With the dramatic increase in childhood obesity rates and chronic disease, it is our responsibility as a public health entity to explore ways to turn that trend around," said Cuyahoga County Board of Health commissioner Terry Allan. "We truly appreciate the partnership we have built and are pleased with the results that we have seen from the SEL project."
Red Basket Farm, based out of Kinsman in Trumbull County, supplies 22 different varieties of fruits and vegetables year-round to SELCSD.
The Farm to School partnership is the first-of-its-kind in Cuyahoga County. SELCSD is the first school district in Ohio to pass a School Board-Approved Wellness policy containing Farm to School language.
"The health and welfare of our students is a top priority and an added comfort is taken in knowing that our internal measures to provide fresh food are recognized at a national level," said SELCSD superintendent Linda Reid.
"It's a huge honor and knowing that we're working to improve the health of our community, especially through non-traditional partnerships, establishing relationships with farms, enhancing our relationships with school districts, is a real win-win for everybody," said Cuyahoga County Board of Health program manager Alison Patrick.