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Atif Qarni, former PWC teacher, will lead “Crunch” as Va. schools support agriculture industry

All Virginians are encouraged to make some noise for local Farm to School programs today (Tuesday, October 5) by celebrating the fifth annual “Crunch Heard ‘Round the Commonwealth” from 1–1:15 p.m.  Atif Qarni, Secretary of Education, and Heidi Hertz, Deputy Secretary of Agriculture,  will lead the crunch today during the annual Virginia Farm to School Conference, which is virtual again this year due to the pandemic. The social media promotion features Virginians taking a bite out of a Virginia Grown apple and sharing their images and videos.

“With schools now open for in-person instruction, students, teachers, principals and school nutrition staff have an opportunity to make some real noise this week about the importance of Virginia agriculture and nutritious school meals made with locally grown and raised foods,” said James Lane, State Superintendent.

Bettina Ring, Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry.  and Brad Copenhaver, Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner.  will also share Crunch Heard ‘Round the Commonwealth videos on social media.

“Virginia Farm to School programs are critical to strengthening relationships among farmers, students, and local communities. In addition to connecting students to agriculture and providing education opportunities, Farm to School activities promote the importance of local agriculture, improve student nutrition and health, and raise public awareness of food and farming,” Copenhaver said.

“Connecting students with food that is grown locally provides a great opportunity for them to learn more about the natural resources available in their communities and understand where their food comes from,” said Qarni. “Celebrating Farm to School Week is a fun and engaging way to connect food and the importance of nutrition to the curriculum.”

The Virginia Farm to School Network, formed in 2018, connects schools with local food producers to purchase fresh, healthy foods for school cafeterias, preschools and summer feeding programs while enhancing educational opportunities in school gardens, classrooms and cafeterias.

Additional information about celebrating Virginia Farm to School Week and the Crunch Heard ‘Round the Commonwealth can be found on the VDACS and VDOE websites. School divisions interested in joining the Virginia Farm to School Network should contact Sandra Curwood, Director of School Nutrition Programs. Her email is .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or call her at 804-225-2074.

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