Students in Bowling Green Independent Schools' Lighthouse leadership team hold the Buy Local award presented by Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles, back left, to BGIS Food Service Director Kim Simpson, back right. (Kentucky Department of Agriculture photo)
Quarles Commends Bowling Green Schools for Reaching Kentucky Proud Milestone
School System Hits Lifetime Cap for State Reimbursements
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (November 3, 2017) — Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles today congratulated Bowling Green Independent Schools for becoming the first school system in Kentucky Proud history to reach the $36,000 lifetime cap on state reimbursements for local food purchases.
“Bowling Green Independent Schools is committed to serving the freshest, most nutritious foods to its students while at the same time supporting the local agricultural economy and keeping its food dollars close to home,” Commissioner Quarles said in a news conference at Jackson’s Orchard, which supplies apples for the school system. “Food service director Kim Simpson and her staff have developed relationships with local producers that will serve her schools and the community for years to come.”
“What an honor for Bowling Green Independent Schools to be the first school system receiving this Buy Local milestone,” Kim Simpson said. “We are proud of the relationships we have cultivated over the years. We will continue to buy local products in the future, investing our dollars into the friends and neighbors in our community.”
Surrounded by Kentucky Proud vendors, school representatives, and local elected officials, Commissioner Quarles said the school system was reimbursed a total of $36,000 in the past three years through the Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s (KDA’s) Buy Local program and its predecessor, Restaurant Rewards. The system spent more than $250,000 on local Kentucky Proud foods in that span, Commissioner Quarles said.
The event was preceded by a reception featuring Perdue Farms’ Harvestland Tenderready Drumsticks, a Kentucky Proud product raised on Kentucky farms and processed at the Perdue plant in Ohio County and created to serve to students in grades K-12. Jackson’s Orchard served apple cider and caramel apples, and Prairie Farms provided milk and ice cream. A broccoli and cheese soup prepared by Custom Food Solutions that includes broccoli grown in Kentucky also was a part of the reception.
Under the Buy Local program, a restaurant or other food service may be reimbursed 15 percent of the cost of eligible Kentucky Proud products up to $12,000 per year, with a lifetime cap of $36,000. Buy Local was launched in early 2016 to encourage food services to purchase Kentucky Proud foods and raise consumer awareness of the economic importance of supporting family farms and small businesses.
To find out more about Buy Local, go to kyagr.com/marketing/buy-local.html.
The KDA administers the Farm to School program, which helps connect Kentucky school systems with local farmers and small businesses. Kentucky schools spent nearly $8.9 million on local food products in 2013-2014. More than 700 schools in 77 Kentucky school districts had programs in place to buy local Kentucky foods for their school cafeterias, according to the 2015 Farm to School Census compiled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Many students take part in planting school gardens, visiting farms, and turning the cafeteria into a classroom.
The program conducts the annual Farm to School Junior Chef competition, in which high school cooking teams compete for scholarships and the coveted Junior Chef Trophy while learning cooking skills and gaining an appreciation for local foods. The competition has developed into a national model, and 2017 champion Montgomery County will compete against champions from seven other southern states in the first Southeastern Junior Chef Tournament next May at Sullivan University in Louisville.