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Veggie fundraiser supports schools, local farmers

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Forget selling chocolate bars --- schools are making a fundraising bundle on vegetables.

Since September, the Farm 2 School Healthy Choice Fundraiser has sold more than 500,000 pounds of locally grown vegetables to Manitoba families, raising $245,545 for Manitoba schools, Healthy Living, Youth and Seniors Minister Jim Rondeau announced today.

"This outstanding initiative, now in its second year, provides Manitoba schools with a healthy way to raise funds while promoting good nutrition," said Rondeau. "This is an important step in our fight against childhood obesity and it also benefits Manitoba farmers and stimulates our economy."

Participating schools sell bags of Peak of the Market vegetables in $10 and $20 bags, and half the proceeds remains with the school and the other half goes back to Manitoba farmers. This year's program has sold more than 540,000 pounds of vegetables, which is equivalent to about 13 semi-trailer loads and is more than four times the volume sold in 2010, Rondeau said.

The minister praised the efforts of the program partners, including Peak of the Market, which provides the vegetables at cost and delivers them to participating schools; the Manitoba Association of Home Economists, which co-ordinates the fundraiser; and the 215 schools which participated in this year's program, up from 66 schools the first year.

"The Farm 2 School veggie fundraiser has exceeded all of our expectations, with each participating school earning an average of $1,065," said Larry McIntosh, president and CEO of Peak of the Market. "Having students fundraise for their schools with healthy foods, while helping support Manitoba famers is truly a win for our schools and for all Manitobans."

The Farm 2 School initiative will begin again in September 2012. Information on the program can be found at www.farmtoschoolmanitoba.ca/.

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