Farm to School Programs
As the country becomes more health-conscious and concerned about eating habits, an increasing number of schools have embraced the farm to school movement.
“Farm to school” refers to programs that encourage agriculture-related education—such as gardening and farm visits—and support for locally produced food.
The USDA’s Farm to School Program, which is run by the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), includes training, research, assistance, and grants.
What Do Farm to School Programs Accomplish?
Farm to School programs connect grade schools with farms in their region and give schools the opportunity to serve healthy local foods in cafeterias. These local fruit and vegetables, meats, and dairy products featured in school cafeterias increase economic opportunities for local food producers—from farmers to manufacturers.
The USDA Farm to School Program allows schools to define what counts as “local” food, depending on climate, location, and the availability of local food producers.
Another hallmark of these nationwide programs is the hands-on-learning approach, allowing students to participate in fun and educational activities, such as maintaining a school garden, taste tests, and cooking classes. Education about nutrition is also integrated into the school’s curriculum.
Farm to school programs aim to improve the health and knowledge of school-aged children, support local economies, and protect the environment by emphasizing the importance of healthy-eating habits, local or regional food producers, and sustainable agricultural practices.
Visit the USDA to learn more about the national Farm to School Program, and visit Florida Farm to School to learn more about the state’s program. You can also contact your local UF/IFAS Extension office for more information on locally-produced foods.
Adapted and excerpted from:
“Farm to School,” USDA (Accessed 08/2014).
“Farm to School Partnership,”UF/IFAS Farm To School(Accessed 08/2014).