FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
TUESDAY, MAY 15, 2012
Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina
|Brian Long, director
NCDA&CS Public Affairs
BCBS Foundation grant drives more N.C. produce to more N.C. students
NCDA&CS, BCBS Foundation team up to expand Farm to School Program
A grant from the Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation allowed the
state to purchase five tractor-trailers for the Farm to School Program.
CHAPEL HILL — The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) Foundation has invested $1.2 million to expand the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Farm to School Program in response to the growing problem of childhood obesity in North Carolina. The grant provides funding for five new refrigerated tractor-trailers, increasing the distribution of local fruits and vegetables to 35 additional school systems statewide.
“This expansion of the Farm to School program provides even more students with healthy, North Carolina-grown options, nutrition education and helps children connect their food to the farms where it grows, which are all important steps in preventing and reducing obesity,” said Kathy Higgins, BCBSNC Foundation president. “Our state’s child nutrition services focus on health and quality for our students and local, fresh food is an important component.”
Standing beside one of the Farm to School Program's new tractor-trailers are, from left, Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler, Marilyn Moody, senior director of child nutrition for Wake County Schools; Kathy Higgins, president of the Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation; and Brad Wilson, CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina.
In addition to the tractor-trailers, the grant supports a three-year Farm to School marketing initiative to teach children about what is being served in their school cafeteria, where it is grown, how to make healthy food choices and the importance of a healthy diet, as well as raise the profile of the Farm to School program among school systems across the state. Access to healthy food and the education to make smart choices are more important than ever as one in three children in North Carolina is obese or at risk of becoming obese.
“North Carolina school children are not the only beneficiaries from the expansion of the Farm to School program. Local farmers also benefit by serving the increasing number of schools receiving farm-fresh food,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “More North Carolina school children will receive fresh produce, more often. And farmers will increase their customer base. The expansion of this program is a win for our entire state.”
N.C. Farm to School has been supplying North Carolina school cafeterias with locally grown produce since 1997. Last year the program served more than 900,000 students almost 1.4 million pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables. Farm-fresh produce is provided throughout the school year and includes apples, blueberries, broccoli crowns, cabbage, cantaloupes, collards, cucumbers, peaches, romaine lettuce, squash, sprite melons, strawberries, sweet corn, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, watermelons and zucchini.
For more information, follow @BCBSNCFound and @NCAgriculture on Twitter or visit the Farm to School program website at www.ncfarmtoschool.com.
About NC Farm to School
The N.C. Farm to School Program was formed in 1997 by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Food Distribution and Marketing divisions to develop a system for schools across the state to receive fresh produce grown by local farmers. All school districts in North Carolina have the ability to be part of the Farm to School Program.
About the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
The North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services provides services that promote and improve agriculture and agribusiness, protect consumers and businesses, and preserve farmland and natural resources for the prosperity of all North Carolinians.
About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation
The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation is a separate, independent, nonprofit Foundation dedicated to improving the health and well-being of North Carolinians. The Foundation's focus areas include: Health of Vulnerable Populations - improving health outcomes of populations served by safety net organizations; Healthy Active Communities - increasing physical activity and encouraging healthy eating habits; and Community Impact through Nonprofit Excellence - increasing the effectiveness of nonprofit organizations. BCBSNC Foundation invests programs and services in response to grant requests and proactively creates initiatives or partners with organizations to address specific needs. It also coordinates several Signature Programs, among them, the Be Active Kids® and Healthy Community Institute for Nonprofit Excellence.More information is available at www.bcbsncfoundation.org. Since its founding in 2000, the BCBSNC Foundation has invested $80.5 million into North Carolina communities through more than 600 grants.