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Local School District Receives Federal Grant To Promote Healthy Food Access

The outdoor garden behind Graham Middle School.
Alejandro Figueroa
The outdoor garden behind Graham Middle School.

A school district in Champaign County received a federal grant for its food education program. The district already has one working garden, and now it’s hoping to expand and make more local connections.

Graham Local School District in Saint Paris has built raised vegetable beds, a greenhouse and a coop for about a dozen chickens and ducks. During the school year, kids help out in the garden and learn about food.

The district is one of eight schools and nonprofits in Ohio to receive the USDA Farms to School Grant. The grant is part of a nationwide effort to help improve access to locally sourced foods and food education.

In 2021 the USDA awarded $12 million in grants to over 170 national, state, and local organizations involved in farm to school programs, $600,000 which went to Ohio, according to a USDA press release.

Chad Lensman is the Director of Teaching and Learning at Graham. He has worked at developing the garden for about five years. He said the garden is about teaching kids all the work that goes into farming.

“They really need to know where their food comes from, how they can grow their food. And maybe we can inspire some kids to go down some different pathways and change their life path.” Lensman said.

The grant $100,000 grant will help Graham Local Schools expand its outdoor gardens de by adding fruit trees, a new irrigation system and create partnerships with local organizations with the primary goal of promoting nutritional education and healthy food choices, according to Lensman.

Food reporter Alejandro Figueroa is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.

Alejandro Figueroa covers food insecurity and the business of food for WYSO through Report for America — a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. Alejandro particularly covers the lack of access to healthy and affordable food in Southwest Ohio communities, and what local government and nonprofits are doing to address it. He also covers rural and urban farming

Email: afigueroa@wyso.org
Phone: 937-917-5943