October is the month and time to celebrate the connections that are happening all over the country between schools and local food!
Farm to School is unique 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. This special program exist in all 50 states, but since Farm to School is a grassroots movement, the programs are as diverse as the communities that build them.
What are the benefits of Farm to School?
Farm to School programs are based on the foundation that students will choose healthier foods. These healthy foods includes more fruits and vegetables, that are fresh, locally grown, and picked at the peak of their flavor. The Farm to School programs provide benefits to the entire community: children, farmers, food service staff, parents, and teachers. Here are some statistics about the Farm to School program:
- The choice of healthier options in the cafeteria through Farm to School meals results in consumption of more fruits and vegetables with an average increase of 0.99 to 1.3 servings per day, including at home.
- Schools report a 3 to 16 percent increase in school meal participation when farm-fresh food is served through Farm to School programs.
- Farm to School programs open new markets for farmers and help expand their customer base by raising awareness about local food systems.
- Farm to School programs are also known to increase school meal participation rates.
How can you start a Farm to School program in your community?
Farm to School programs exist in all 50 states, so there are support and resources are available no matter where you live. You don’t have to be a cafeteria manager or school board member to get involved – parents, teachers and even students have the influence to start programs and make change happen! For tips and resources to help you get started, visit the National Farm to School Network‘s website, and read the “How to Start a Program” page.