Puerto Rico public schools to serve locally harvested products
The Puerto Rico Agriculture Department and the Education Department have reached an agreement through which public school lunchrooms will serve locally harvested products when students return to the classrooms in August, the agencies announced.
The contract represents some $30 million in annual purchases that will benefit some 300 farmers, News is my Business confirmed.
Funding for the fresh food purchases will come from the US Department of Agriculture’s Food Nutrition Services run by the Puerto Rico Education Department.
The inter-agency agreement, which is effective immediately, runs until Sept. 30, 2024. The Agriculture Department’s Agricultural Companies Development Administration (ADEA, in Spanish) will oversee the procurement and distribution of the fruits, vegetables and fresh and processed meats.
“We want our children to have a healthy and balanced diet and what better way than to do it with the products we grow and harvest here,” Agriculture Secretary Ramón González said.
“We couldn’t ignore this important sector that are school cafeterias, which is why we’ve done our best to ensure that school cafeterias go back to consuming our farmers’ products.
“Direct purchases of local products are a support to the farmer so that they continue producing for the good of the island and our agriculture. Our people need our support and our people need the best food produced in our land,” said González, who has been a career farmer and spent many years heading the Puerto Rico Farm Bureau.
Meanwhile, interim Education Secretary Eliezer Román said promoting a healthy diet in students is “essential for the agency.”
“This collaborative agreement will be of great help to ensure that Agriculture can streamline the processes that allow it to provide our school canteens with fresh food harvested by our local farmers,” he said.