About Farm to School
What is Farm to School (F2S)? It certainly represents more than just “buying local.” It’s a mindset and an approach to connecting food education to the process of growing healthy kids. F2S activities include planting gardens, visiting farms, and using locally grown ingredients in menus. It also includes teaching kids to cook with local foods and bringing farmers to the schools to teach kids about farming and food production.
As (Former) Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has said, “an investment in the health of America’s students through farm-to-school activities is also an investment in the health of local economies. We know that when students have experiences such as tending a school garden or visiting a farm, they’ll be more likely to make healthy choices in the cafeteria. We also know that when schools invest their food dollars in their local communities, all of agriculture benefits including local farmers, ranchers, fishermen, food processors, and manufacturers.”
Farm to School programs exist in every state in the nation. According to the 2015 USDA Farm to School Census, 42% of districts that responded to the survey say they participate in farm to school activities. That’s 5,254 districts and 42,587 schools! As a result, 23.6 million school children now have access to local food at school. These programs help them develop healthy eating habits and understand what goes into growing the food that ends up on their plates.
The cornerstone of any Farm to School program is creating procurement relationships with local farmers and producers. For guidance for implementing F2S in your district, check out our Farm to School Procurement section. Also be sure to utilize our farm-to-school recipes!
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