GALVESTON, Texas - August 3, 2023 - Galveston’s Own Farmers Market (GOFM) is one of the 103 recipients to receive a 2023 USDA Farm to School Grant.
GOFM’s Young Gardeners Program (YGP) currently operates at nine Galveston ISD (GISD) schools as part of the TOR and Texas ACE after-school programs. With the support of a 2023 USDA Farm to school grant award, GOFM’s ‘Fueling Kids with Fresh Foods’ project will further integrate YGP operations into the school day, expand “Eat Fresh” days to approximately 1,000 students at Morgan and Weis campuses, create curriculum with a focus on food sovereignty, and debut a community & district-wide art project highlighting the hard work of YGP students in collaboration with local artists.
In 2021, GOFM won their first USDA Farm to School grant award wherein they accomplished two milestones: (1) spearheading the ‘Galveston Farm to School Planning Team’ invested in increasing fresh food access to GISD Students and (2) partnering with GISD's Child Nutrition Department on monthly district-wide “Eat Fresh” days that integrate veggies harvested from GOFM's YGP school gardens into the cafeteria lunch menu. In SY21-22, all GISD 3rd graders (447 children total) participated; in SY22-23, every Morgan Elementary student (550 total) enjoyed dishes like zucchini pizza, roasted sweet potatoes and the crowd favorite, cucumbers with tajín.
“Helping schools expand access to healthy, locally grown produce through these grants is just one of the many ways USDA is transforming America’s food system,” says Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Not only will this give children more nutritious food options in school, it supports local agriculture economies while connecting them to the farms and farmers that grow the food we all depend on.”
By connecting kids and local agriculture, the GOFM-led ‘Galveston Farm to School Project’ revolutionizes the way kids eat, learn, and think about fresh food at school--and beyond. A team of local GISD and nonprofit leaders, food service personnel, local farmers, and community health researchers from UTMB’s School of Public Health have worked together since 2021 to develop activities that extend beyond the current farm to school operations of GOFM’s Young Gardeners Program---including procuring foods from local farmers, adapting existing YGP curriculum for school-day use, and growing GOFM’s gardens network as a hyper-local pipeline of fresh produce on GISD cafeteria menus. And now—the next phase of implementation begins with the support of this 2023 USDA Farm to School award.
“We are grateful for this additional opportunity presented by the USDA,” says Executive Director of GOFM Casey McAuliffe. “As repeat award recipients, it’s clear to us that the support for gardens as hubs of learning, food security and elevated quality of life for students is gaining momentum, and we are incredibly proud to steward this work in Galveston.”
How can you support this work? GOFM’s Young Gardeners Program Director Honi Alexander answers, “Volunteer as a Garden Aide at one of the many schools. Your time and energy are essential to ensuring we teach the magic of gardening to our kids–plus, you can do it with only 1 hour a week!”
About Galveston’s Own Farmers Market
Founded in 2012, Galveston's Own Farmers Market is a 501 (c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to connecting our community to local foods through year-round weekly farmers markets, food access initiatives, school gardens, and health & food education opportunities. Learn more about our programs: https://galvestonsownfarmersmarket.com/about
About Galveston ISD
Galveston ISD is a public school district in Texas, established in 1884, that serves nearly 7,000 students. Its 12 Schools of Choice campuses consist of traditional and theme-based schools, charter schools, STEM programs, magnet schools, and a mega-magnet high school. The district’s mission is to Educate, Engage and Empower EACH student for a life of Excellence. To learn more, visit www.gisd.org