DOVER – Tens of thousands of students across the state will get slices of Delaware deliciousness with their lunches this week, with all 19 state school districts joining together to serve the fresh, locally-grown fruit on lunch lines Wednesday.
The project is part of Delaware’s Farm to School program, a collaborative initiative between local school districts, farmers and the Department of Agriculture to get local foods into schools, increasing healthy eating opportunities and students’ awareness of agriculture. The event was launched by local school district child nutrition supervisors, who organized it with several Delaware farmers.
The Watermelon Wednesday event showcases one of Delaware’s best-known agricultural products, with more than 100 million pounds produced every year, said Secretary of Agriculture Ed Kee.
“Getting fresh, local produce to our young peoples’ plates is vitally important to helping them understand the connections between food and farming,” Kee said. “Delaware schools have really taken the lead in helping our students eat healthier. The Farm to School program deserves a lot of credit for getting local food in our school cafeterias.”
The Farm to School Advisory Board, which supports local food purchases by Delaware’s public school districts, includes representatives from all school districts, farmers, parents, the Department of Education, Nemours Health and Prevention Services, the University of Delaware, Delaware State University and Master Gardeners.
“We serve every type of local food we can buy – apples, potatoes, pumpkins, corn, squash, string beans, broccoli and much more,” said Paula Angelucci, supervisor of nutrition services for the Colonial School District and chair of the advisory board. “While we have been serving Delaware-fresh watermelon since the start of school, this is a great way to celebrate the wonderful healthy options our students are getting.”
Eight farms will help supply the watermelon for Wednesday’s statewide event – Downes Farm (near Laurel), Kalmar Farms (Harrington), Marvel Farms (Harrington), Magee Farms (Selbyville), Vincent Farms (Laurel), Malfitano Farms (Greenwood) and Calloway Farms (Laurel), with Malfitano and Calloway watermelon being delivered by Fifer Farms of Camden-Wyoming.
“Delaware farmers overwhelmingly support the Farm to School program, with more getting involved every year,” said David Marvel, a Harrington-area farmer and vice-chair of the advisory board. “From large farms to small, we are all interested in helping our students eat local and experience what true freshness tastes like.”
Chief of Community Relations
Delaware Department of Agriculture