NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Texas has received permission from the federal government to spend more money to put locally grown foods in school lunch programs.

Proponents of the Department of Defense Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program say it increases school food buying power and food quality, and is more likely to have products consistently delivered.

Texas will be able to spend $12 million of USDA Foods entitlement money to buy locally grown fresh produce.

Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples says the money is available to schools statewide. “The additional funding designated for fresh and local foods will be assigned to participating schools on a fair share basis and then allocated proportionally.”

Officials say the locally grown produce available through the program is produced within the state of Texas or adjacent states, meets quantity and quality requirements, and is competitively priced.

Staples said the program allows for a wider variety of fresh produce than would normally be available, and schools and place orders easily. “School food authorities that participate in the lunch program will select the fresh foods they want to receive through the order receipt system.”

Some of the goals of the program is to improve children’s overall diet and create healthier eating habits that they will carry into adulthood.

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