Columbia Heights Public Schools recently received a Rapid Response Farm to School Grant from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture valued at nearly $5,000.

The district will use it to purchase local produce from The Good Acre in Falcon Heights through Thursday, Dec. 31. Food Services Manager Maggie Maggio applied for the grant this past summer.

“Columbia Heights Public Schools aspires to diversify and expand purchasing from Minnesota producers during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Maggio wrote in the proposal. “(We’d like to) incorporate fresh, local and seasonal produce into our feeding programs, in whatever form they take. CHPS will consider a wide range of Minnesota food fruits and vegetables for procurement. It is our goal to introduce a host of new flavors and ingredients to children as well as show them how delicious, nutrient- dense, more flavorful, and eco-friendly local produce can be.”

After reviewing potential local food sources, the district will expand its partnership with local food hub The Good Acre. The Good Acre aggregates local products from more than 20 Minnesota farms and provides a broad array of fresh, local food options. The organization makes a point of working with farmers of all creeds, colors and genders, especially farmers in the Hmong community.

Maggio said Columbia Heights Public Schools is committed to sourcing produce from vendors of all backgrounds.

“We are very excited to receive this funding from the MN Dept. of Agriculture,” Maggio said in a statement. “Offering a variety of foods has been a challenge during the pandemic, but this funding will allow us to not only have more variety, but also share fresh, flavorful, and local fruits and vegetables while supporting MN farmers.”

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