A day-long event to help build Central Louisiana’s farm to school momentum is coming to Alexandria. “Foodapalooza: Farm to School Edition” will be held from 9:30am until 3:30pm on Tuesday, July 14th, in the Coughlin-Saunders Performing Arts Center in downtown Alexandria. The event is designed for anyone interested in the local foods movement, including the latest efforts to get local foods into Central Louisiana schools. Register for the free event at www.freshcentral.org.
It is a twist on the traditional “Foodapalooza”, a celebration of local foods held every February in Cenla. “Foodapalooza: Farm to School Edition” is sponsored by the LSU AgCenter and the Central Louisiana Economic Development Alliance, and it serves as a regional follow-up to Louisiana’s first statewide Farm to School conference held in May. “This is an opportunity to learn how you can help schools include more healthy and local foods in their cafeterias and classrooms,” said John Cotton Dean, CLEDA’s Director of Regional Innovation. “The interest in the Louisiana Farm to School movement is growing, so we are building on that momentum. We’ll also touch on every aspect of the local foods movement because it is all connected.”
“Foodapalooza: Farm to School Edition” is part of the Central Louisiana Local Foods Initiative, a community effort that aims to strengthen Central Louisiana’s local foods economy while increasing access to fresh foods for all residents of the region. The initiative was created in 2012 with a Challenge for a Healthier Louisiana Grant from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation and matching funding from The Rapides Foundation. CLEDA is partnering with the LSU AgCenter and the City of Alexandria to make this event possible. “This will be a great event, featuring the resources and partners that make farm to school happen across much of rural Louisiana,” notes Ann Savage, LSU AgCenter Program Associate.
The day will kick off with a keynote presentation from the Indian Springs Farmers Association, which will explain how a small group of farmers in rural Mississippi banded together to sell directly to rural school systems in Mississippi and Louisiana. A regional farm to school resources tour will follow the keynote address. The tour–with transportation provided by the City of Alexandria’s historic trolleys–will include stops at farms, youth gardens, the Food Bank of Central Louisiana’s Nutrition on Wheels Truck, and the new Alexandria Farmers Market. A happy hour networking session will follow the event. The event is geared toward anyone interested in the local farm to school movement. This includes teachers, school administrators, nutritionists or health advocates, farmers, wholesalers/distributors, parents, students or local food advocates.
Jim Clinton, CLEDA’s President and CEO, said the goal of the local food initiative is to create a sustainable agricultural economy in the region. “This improves health outcomes by increasing the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables, and it helps the region’s farmers and producers sell their produce locally.”
Visit www.freshcentral.org for more information. If you have specific questions, contact Dean at (318) 441-3424 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The event is free, but registration is required. Visit www.freshcentral.org to register.