School children eagerly scoop food onto their plate, happy that lunchtime has finally come. "We have choices, so we can have that or that," said Cade Weldon, a 5th grader at Sealey Elementary School.
But where do these choices come from? Farm to School has been working with Leon County Schools for 8 years, partnering local farmers with the district.
"So our job is to go out there and try to make sense out of what a farmer wants for a bushel and what a food director wants for a per serving fee. And most of the time it works real well," said Glyen Holmes, who is the Executive Director for New North Florida Cooperative Association, Inc.
The signature item for Leon County schools is fresh collards. Farm to School gets the greens from the farmer, then processes, bags and takes it to each school. "Those were really good," said Maya Morgan, a 4th grader at Sealey Elementary School.
But this program isn't only providing students with fresh food, it's helping small farmers thrive in a struggling economy, one bite at a time. "That's really the main reason I'm still farming. Because the products that I grow I know they're marketed through the school system and that helps me a lot to continue to farm," said William Smith, a farmer who lives in Grady County.
Florida A&M University also assists with the program to provide educational support and marketing tools for farmers.
"It's important because it offers farmers an alternative. Small farmers traditionally are declining in numbers and there's need for them to develop innovative, more profitable markets and with schools being in every county it's just a win win all the way around," said Vonda Richardson, the Extension Marketing Specialist for the FAMU Co-op Extension.