OWENSBORO, Ky. (WEHT) — Daviess County Public Schools has been awarded $96, 000, by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, to supply students with fresh produce for their meals.

The Farm-to-Table grant allows food service directors to establish stronger relationships with local producers in the area.

“I went to the farmers market and introduced myself to some different vendors to see if they’d be interested in providing for the school system,” said Connie Beth Fillman.

She says they were notified of the funding in April of 2022, but couldn’t utilize it on the summer feeding program.

“We just kind of let them know what items our managers usually enjoy having at the school [and] what the kids enjoy. So, they can make sure they have planted enough to grow, over the summer, to be ready for August,” said Fillman.

DCPS is working with about 6 producers, including Riney Farms, Cecil Farms , and Reid’s Orchard.

Students at West Louisville Elementary and Apollo High School received watermelon and corn on the cob from Riney Farms. Keith Riney says he hopes the partnership peaks students’ interest in the agriculture field.

“The kids are going to be eating anyway, [so] it’s nice for them to support their local community by getting the fresh product. Hopefully, they even learn where it’s coming from off the farm,” said Riney.

Officials say the grant program gives them the opportunity to introduce new foods they haven’t offered to the students in the past.

“At Burns Middle School, they ordered watermelon, cantaloupe and tomatoes, but then they also took the grant opportunity to get okra. It’s not menued, but they wanted to give the kids a chance to try something new,” said Fillman.

Teachers have found ways to turn the program into hands-on learning opportunities for the children, as students learn how to shuck corn.

Riney Farms says watermelon, cantaloupe, tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and okra have also been delivered, since the start of the academic year. Riney says seeing the kids enjoy his produce has been the highlight so far.

“Its kind of nice seeing the pictures of the kids enjoying it. Especially, the big smiles on their faces with the watermelons eating that,” said Riney.

KDA says Daviess County has utilized a little over $2000 of their allocated funds.

Officials say there are 86 participating school districts across the state.