Farm to School
National Farm to School Network Nourishing Kids and Communities
Farm to School Definition: Farm to School is broadly defined as a program that connects schools (K-12) and local farms with the objectives of serving healthy meals in school cafeterias, improving student nutrition, providing agriculture, health and nutrition education opportunities, and supporting local and regional farmers. Since each Farm to School program is shaped by its unique community and region, the National Farm to School Network does not prescribe or impose a list of practices or products for the Farm to School approach.
Farm to School at its core is about establishing relationships between local foods and school children by way of including, but not limited to:
• Local products in school meals –breakfast, lunch, afterschool snacks; and in classrooms – snacks, taste tests, educational tools
• Local foods related curriculum development and experiential learning opportunities through school gardens, farm tours, farmer in the classroom sessions, chefs in the classroom, culinary education, educational sessions for parents and community members, visits to farmers’ markets.
The National Farm to School Network aims to enable every child to have access to nutritious food while simultaneously benefiting communities and local farmers. The National Farm to School Network sprouted from the desire to support community-based food systems, strengthen family farms, and improve student health by reducing childhood obesity. The Network is a collaborative of the Urban & Environmental Policy Institute, Occidental College and the Community Food Security Coalition (CFSC). The Network coordinates, promotes and expands Farm to School at the state, regional and national levels. Eight regional lead agencies and national staff provide free training and technical assistance, information services, networking, and support for policy, media and marketing activities. The Farm to School approach helps children understand where their food comes from and how their food choices impact their bodies, the environment and their communities at large.
Buying local for your district can be easier than meets the eye. Get started by checking out these 10 facts compiled by the USDA about local food In school cafeterias.
Many schools are now looking for ways to extend their Farm to School programs beyond the season for locally grown fresh produce. One avenue for engaging in Farm to School year round is preserving the local bounty through innovative strategies for freezing fruits and vegetables grown nearby.
In this report, IATP explores several potential avenues for freezing locally and regionally grown produce on a small-to-medium scale for the K-12 marketplace: schools freezing on-site in their own kitchen facilities; mobile freezing units; commercial kitchens and small freezing enterprises; and co-pack relationships with existing freezing companies that could potentially serve the K-12 market.
School Food FOCUS offers a guide to schools in purchasing local food.
Compilation of examples of successful farm to school programs from around the country
"A Health Impact Assessment detailing the potential impacts of Oregon’s 2011 Farm to School and School Garden legislation"
"Relating to Oregon Farm-to-School and School Garden Program; creating new provisions; amending ORS 336.426; appropriating money; and declaring an emergency."
An overview of a USDA Q&A document lays out many frequently asked questions about applying geographic preference to your produce bid and provides key answers. A must-read for anyone looking to change their produce buying methods to support more regional procurement.
"Are Farm-to-School Programs More Common in States With Farm-to-School-Related Laws?"
From the Journal of School Health
"Food hub impacts on regional food systems, and the resources available to support their growth and development"
“The Farmers’ Market Salad Bar Program” seeks to increase consumption of fresh fruits
and vegetables among students by purchasing directly from local farmers and preparing fresh food
on a daily basis. Simultaneously, the program integrates nutrition education in the classroom,
gardening and composting activates, and guided tours to the local Farmers’ Market; with hopes to
modify students daily decision of food choices. Students, parents, and staff participation are
integral to the program’s success.