US (AK): Dillingham City School District to buy hydroponic tank

The Dillingham City School District wants to start growing its own greens. The district recently received a $150,000 grant from the US Department of Agriculture and plans to buy a hydroponic tank where students and staff can raise produce for school lunches. The money comes as part of the Department of Agriculture's effort to fund nutritious meals in rural schools.

Phil Hulett is the school district's business manager and food service director. He says the district plans to integrate the 40-foot tank into classes.

"It's going to incorporate into the elementary science curriculum, the middle/high school science curriculum, as well as an economics class," he said. "They're going to do a price point study and a marketing scheme and sell some of the excess that we get from the farm."

Produce is costly in Bristol Bay, even in the growing season. A head of iceberg lettuce, for example, currently costs about $7.00 at AC, one of two grocery stores in Dillingham. In California, where that lettuce is grown, it would cost about $1.60. And in winter, unless it's frozen or grown in a private greenhouse, produce travels hundreds if not thousands of miles to get here, which can result in wilting, bruised veggies.


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