Proposed Mat-Su facility aims to feed school kids

Posted: Monday, June 15, 2009

ANCHORAGE - Mat-Su officials hope a $12 million agricultural processing facility planned for the Valley will put more nutritious, Alaska-grown products in school lunches, institutional and military dining halls, and on retail grocery shelves.

The ability to process and sell products year-round would allow local farmers to plant more crops and expand production. Fresh produce and other farm products sell well in local grocery stores and farmers' markets, but production is limited to the short summer season.

The Matanuska-Susitna Borough is about to issue a request for proposals for design and engineering of the processing facility, said Elizabeth Gray, assistant Mat-Su Borough manager.

About $240,000 is available for the design work, she said. The search is still under way for the money to actually build the plant, however.

The facility would be located adjacent to the Mat-Su school district's existing school nutrition center, which could use more local products in the 9,000 to 11,000 school lunches made daily during the school year.

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