Essentia Health-Northern Pines in Aurora was awarded a $100,000 grant from the USDA Farm to School Program to increase the amount of healthy, local food served in schools and create economic opportunities for nearby farmers.
The USDA selected 126 projects across 42 states, with six winners in Minnesota. The grant funding will allow Mesabi East Schools to expand their Farm to School program by having the ability to staff a Farm to School coordinator and assistant coordinator. These positions will allow networking with local producers/growers by increasing the amount of produce in the school and expanding to neighboring school districts. The key partners include the school board, St. Louis County Public Health, the Rutabaga Project and Essentia Health.
“Mesabi East Environmental Education Center looks forward to strengthening the Farm to School program not only at Mesabi East Schools but through expanding to other schools on the Iron Range,” said Rachel Doherty, Farm to School coordinator at Mesabi East Schools. “The USDA Farm to School grant is a wonderful opportunity to partner with local farmers and producers while educating the youth of the area on local and sustainable foods. Our partnership has proven to be a great pathway towards a healthy future.”
“Essentia Health’s mission is to make a healthy difference,” said Laura Ackman, administrator at Essentia Health-Northern Pines. “We are grateful to partner with the Mesabi East Environmental Education Center to increase access to food that supports health. Farm to School activities strengthen local economies, reduce food insecurity and promote nutritious diets. We are very glad to be part of supporting this program.”