Students attending Michigan City Area Schools will enjoy fruits, vegetables, and more provided by local farmers, thanks to a new program that will begin during National School Lunch Week, Oct. 9-13.

MCAS has partnered with the NWI Food Council (NWIFC) to serve locally sourced food from area farmers for school lunches. Funding for the initiative is made possible through a Local Food for Schools grant awarded to the NWIFC by the Indiana Department of Health. The grant provides funds to NWIFC to purchase local products from Indiana farmers, such as vegetables, fruits, meats, eggs, dairy, and grains, which the organization distributes at no cost to qualifying schools in the Northwest Indiana region.

“We’re excited to begin introducing students to a range of fresh, healthy foods that are produced so close to home,” said MCAS Food Service Director Nicole Santana.

MCAS will receive its first delivery of locally sourced food provided through the program  – apples from Garwood Orchards today. According to Santana, other types of food will be ordered in the coming weeks, depending upon availability and planned school menus.

“This semester, we will be focusing on ordering produce,” she said. “We hope to expand that next semester to some of the other items that will be available, such as cheeses, eggs, honey, and ground beef.”

Area farms participating in the program include Garwood Orchards, Rainfield Farm, Tuholski Produce, Kankakee Valley Homestead, and Fischer Farms, among others.

MCAS will also celebrate National School Lunch Week in its cafeterias next week, as Food Service staff invites students to “Level Up with School Lunch” – a nod to video gaming, a popular trend with students. The week is celebrated at schools across the nation and is promoted by the nonprofit School Nutrition Association.