The Harwood Unified Union School District (HUUSD) is one of six supervisory unions to have purchased the most local foods through the state’s Local Foods Incentive Grant program, thereby receiving further state grant funding towards purchasing local foods.





The district increased its use of local foods in school meals from 14% in the 2022-23 grant year to 23% in 2023-24, making it the second highest purchaser of local foods in the state.

A shift in the district’s approach to food purchasing led to a significant purchasing increase.

“We started by strategically placing our USDA Foods order to not include items that we could purchase locally, like raw ground beef and shredded cheddar cheese,” said HUUSD food and nutrition co-director Erika Dolan.

“With some extra work ensuring that the items we were purchasing meet the local requirements, an additional expenditure coding, and a different business mindset we hit the 23% mark in FY 22-23! We are extremely proud of this accomplishment,” she said.

This week, the Vermont Agency of Education in partnership with the Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets recognized six supervisory unions (SU/SDs) that have achieved the highest rates of local purchasing through The Local Foods Incentive Grant program established in 2021. The efforts of schools, farms, community partners, and the state continue to create new and exciting partnerships that are boosting both the economy and food access across the state.  

Now in its third year, the Local Foods Incentive Grant program assists SU/SDs in purchasing Vermont local foods to serve in their child nutrition programs. SU/SDs that purchased at least 15% local foods will receive a grant award ranging from $0.15 to $0.25 per lunch served, depending on their local purchasing percentage. In real dollars, grant awards typically range from $20,000 to $40,000 per SU/SD.


From maple syrup, to beef, to fresh vegetables, the program supported a variety of agricultural sectors and introduced students to foods that they may not have access to otherwise. The program not only provided fresh and healthy meals to students, but it also helped create a new market for many Vermont farmers.

There were 13 SU/SDs that applied for the grant in SY22-23 and SY23-24. When comparing this group of SU/SDs’ year-on-year data, local purchasing increased by 32%, from $730,541.69 in SY22-23 to $963,546.52 in SY23-24.

Of the 20 SU/SDs that applied for the Local Foods Incentive this year, six SU/SDs exceeded 15% and qualified for a grant award: 

  1. Windham Northeast -- 31% 
  2. Harwood Unified Union -- 23%
  3. Mountain Views Supervisory Union -- 21%
  4. Mount Abraham – 21% 
  5. Addison Northwest – 20% 
  6. Lamoille North -- 17% 

These six schools received $170,276.85 in grant funding and purchased $614,339.05 worth of local foods.