(BALDWIN COUNTY, Ala.) - Alabama schools will now try to use more local produce in school meals. The governor signed a new law that is supposed to make it easier for local farmers to sell their produce to public schools.
It's called the Farm-to-School Procurement Act and will require the state agriculture and education departments to investigate the potential for schools to buy local farm products. But some farmers are sceptical.
"We can grow it, but getting it prepared to where it can go into the local school system, that's another business in itself," said Vince Allegri.
That's because the food cafeterias serve must arrive processed and cleaned.
"There's a lot of government bureaucracy and rules and regulations," said Baldwin County public school spokesperson Terry Wilhite.
Wilhite says schools also have to seek the lowest bidder, which isn't always the local farmer. But, he says, the school does makes attempts to use local suppliers when it can.
"Often times, even though you use a local supplier. The food's not grown here. It's grown in California, Florida. So just because you're buying from a local place, doesn't mean it's grown local," said Wilhite.
Allegri says there's another issue getting what he grows into the mouths of school kids.
"Our major harvest season is not going to fit in with the school program," said Allegri. "A lot of that that's grown right here, right now, school's are out."
The bill's sponsor, Elaine Beech of Chatom, says this is not a cure-all. She is hoping the partnership between the ag and education departments results in new regulations that make it much easier to get more local food in the cafeteria and processed foods out.