Tucson Unified School District spent 38 percent of its $7.8 million budget for school meals on Arizona products during the 2011-12 school year. That’s more than twice the state average, according the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The results were part of the USDA survey that tracked school’s participation in the Farm to School program, which encourages schools to buy local.
TUSD supplies 30,000 meals daily according to its Food Services Director Shirley Sokol.
“Although we always look for the best price, as long as the services are available at bid prices that work for our system, we hope to continue to increase our local spend in the state of Arizona,” Sokol said.
More than half of Arizona schools surveyed said they will purchase more local food in the future. Over the last three years, TUSD has increased the amount spent locally by three percentage points.
“When you add up other products that food services works with the in the local community and in the state, such as packaging, equipment parts and services procured from local vendors, we really become am integral part of the Arizona economy," Sokol said.
In coming months, TUSD will serve a dish with bok choy grown in Yuma, but the recipe is a secret until it hits the cafeteria.