Louisiana Farm to School program wins innovation award

Richard Bogren  |  10/1/2018 8:52:11 PM

(10/01/18) BATON ROUGE, La. — The Louisiana Farm to School Program received the Farm Credit MarketMaker Innovation Award at the 20th annual National Value Added Agriculture Conference as part of the 2018 National Direct Agricultural Marketing Summit, held Sept. 17-18 in Arlington, Virginia.

The Louisiana Farm to School Program connects communities with local food and local food producers. It is made possible through an agreement between the LSU AgCenter and the Louisiana Department of Education Division of Nutrition Support and funded through the United States Department of Agriculture. It also supports and promotes Louisiana Harvest of the Month to bring local food items into schools.

The program uses MarketMaker to inventory farming operations, linking schools with farmers and child nutrition services with fresh, local fruits and vegetables. Capitalizing on this advantage, the team is able to reach new stakeholder groups, build strong partnerships and ultimately contribute to the fight to reduce obesity in their state.

A service provided by the LSU AgCenter with cooperation from the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and the Louisiana Farm Bureau, Louisiana MarketMaker is an internet-based direct-marketing tool that connects farmers, fishers, shrimpers, distributors and food suppliers to schools and consumers.

Representing the LSU AgCenter at the award presentation were Farm to School director Crystal Besse and extension associate Alessandro Holzapfel. Carl Motesenbocker is executive director of the program.

The award recognizes outstanding efforts by state and local MarketMaker programs that contribute to the development of local and regional food systems and help farmers connect to new market opportunities. Farm Credit sponsors the cash awards, which the winners and runners-up can use to advance their MarketMaker-related programs.

First runner-up for the 2018 Innovation Award is the Illinois Farmers Market Association. Second runner-up is the Iowa State Community Foods Systems program.

Gary Matteson, vice president of Young, Beginning, Small Farmer Programs and Outreach with the Farm Credit Council, presented the awards.

“The Farm Credit Innovation Award provides an incentive for state MarketMaker programs to describe the great projects they come up with that can be used by other states,” Matteson said. “This year’s winner is a great example of how to use the powerful data of MarketMaker to create more market opportunities for producers selling into new markets.”

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LSU AgCenter extension associate Alessandro Holzapfel, left, and Louisiana Farm to School program director Crystal Besse accept the Farm Credit MarketMaker Innovation Award from Gary Matteson, vice president of Young, Beginning, Small Farmer Programs and Outreach with the Farm Credit Council, which sponsors the award. Photo provided by Farm Credit Council.

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