Yaqoob Malik is in Charleston as part of a U.S.-Pakistan partnership program arranged by the International Center for Journalists, in Washington, D.C.
ST. ALBANS, W.Va. -- There is still not enough local produce to meet the demands of West Virginia's schools, despite recent gains made in promoting farm-to-school programs.
That's because there are fewer farms than there used to be and those farms are producing cattle more often than they're growing produce, said Tom McConnell, director of the West Virginia University Small Farm Center.
McConnell, who has been in the farming business for 50 years, said there are nearly 23,000 farms in the state.
"Obviously, there is a big demand for locally grown products in the market, especially from the schools," he said, "but we don't have enough produce, unfortunately, to fulfill the demand."
McConnell attended Wednesday's farm-to-table event at McKinley Middle School in St. Albans, promoting local foods in Kanawha County schools.
Buddy Davidson, a spokesman for the West Virginia Department of Agriculture, agreed.
"We don't have the fresh fruit and vegetable production," Davidson said. "One report that I read said that 0.5 percent of the land used for farming [in West Virginia] is used for fruits and vegetables."
Cattle farming is turning a bigger profit these days, McConnell said, which is leading farmers to convert from crops.
"As it is now, about 65 percent of the farms are associated with cattle farming," McConnell said.