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US (CT): School partners with local farms to offer healthier options

With childhood obesity, a growing problem in the United States, Milford School District is taking steps to help students eat healthier meals by partnering with local farms to obtain fresh produce and other products. The latest partnership is with 302 Aquaponics, who will provide fresh lettuce greens for salads and sandwiches.

"The Delaware School Districts participate in Farm to School programs," Sharon Forest, Supervisor of Child Nutrition at Milford School District, said. "WE recently piggybacked off Smyrna School District's contract with Wood Creek Farms, which operates 302 Aquaponics, and will be ordering our lettuce greens from them for our salads and sandwiches. We will be receiving a variety of romaine lettuces, Summer Crisp, and Butter/Bibb lettuce."

Katie Wood, who operates 302 Aquaponics and Wood Creek Farms with her husband, Doug, explained that the company began as a hobby and grew into a commercial operation. Doug, a former special education teacher, began growing lettuce and strawberries in a small greenhouse at home. He took his products to school with him to share with other teachers and staff members at Smyrna School District.

"Many people told him he should do this for 'real,' and it stuck," Katie said. "After taking more than a year to build the greenhouse and get the system up and running, 302 Aquaponics was ready to begin selling lettuce in February 2020. The business model from the first concept was to provide lettuce to schools and local restaurants. During the pandemic, while schools were closed for students and districts needed to provide meals to families, 302 Aquaponics supplied lettuce to several different school districts."

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