What is farm to school?
Farm to school programs connect K-12 schools with local growers of fruit, vegetables and other fresh produce. The goal of farm to school programs is to improve student nutrition, encourage health, nutrition, and food supply education, and support local and regional farmers. Click here to learn more.
Watch the five minute video from USDA to learn how farm to school is making a difference for our kids, farmers, and local economies:
What are the benefits?
Farm to school programs are widely considered beneficial for produce-receiving schools and produce-supplying farmers.
With more than 30 million children eating lunch at schools five days a week, 180 days a year, school lunch is an important aspect of the educational system. Farm to school brings healthy, local food to student’s trays, while simultaneously teaching about the environmental and nutritional benefits of utilizing local farming.
By linking farms and schools, farmers can now have access to this market of 30 million people, which was previously only available to national food distributors. This new direct market reduces the financial and environmental costs of transporting food long distances, and ensures that local educational institutions will be encouraging healthy eating habits through the use of local growers.
According to the National Farm to School Network, FTS programs are a good model for:
- Promoting health eating habits in children and reducing their risk for obesity and related health disorders
- Providing children access to local, healthy and fresh foods
- Facilitating education about nutrition, food and agriculture through curriculum and activity-based or experiential learning
- Increasing school lunch participation and thereby revenues for the school
- Opening up new markets and increasing revenues for farmers
- Generating community support and awareness about local food systems and agriculture
- Keeping agricultural land as open space
- Influencing policymakers at local, state and federal level about a variety of issues such as school food and school environments, food assistance programs, support for local food systems and agriculture, and promoting healthy eating and lifestyle choices in our communities.
For more information on FTS benefits, click here.
Colorado Farm to School Primer
Wondering what “farm to school” is and how you can get involved? The Colorado Farm to School Primer, a publication from LiveWell Colorado provides a comprehensive introduction to Farm to School in Colorado including:
- What is Farm to School all about?
- How does school food work now in Colorado?
- What is happening in Farm to School in Colorado schools now?
- How can gardens and educational activities support better local food in schools?
- What is the potential of Farm to School for our children, farmers and ranchers, and communities?
- How can you help?
If you missed the FTS Primer webinar, you can listen to it online at Colorado Farm to School Primer Webinar and click here to download the presentation. Click here to download a PowerPoint presentation for your own presentations.
Farm to School Programs - A PowerPoint Presentation (PDF)
This resource offers basic information about farm to school programs including the basics, state case studies, resources, and important policies. (Anupama Joshi and Steph Larsen)
The National Farm to School Network
The National Farm to School Network advances objectives of serving healthy meals in school cafeterias, improving student nutrition, providing agriculture, health and education opportunities, and supporting local and regional farmers.
Webinar #5: How the State of Colorado is supporting Farm to School and Why it Matters to You
We know from the experience of other states that Farm to School (FTS) efforts flourishes when the policy and regulatory environment are aligned and supportive of FTS. Learn how the State of Colorado is supporting schools and producers in their farm to school activities. You will hear from statewide groups that were created in 2010 by the state legislature:
You’ll also learn what state agencies are doing to support farm to school, specifically from:
- Colorado Department of Agriculture
- Colorado Department of Education
- Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
Statewide efforts are not limited to public bodies but include non-governmental organizations that focus on improving the health of our children. Learn about the activities underway and planned for the future from:
Each of these statewide entities is committed to making Colorado a leader in farm to school programming. Each provides services and technical assistance that can help schools, producers, and community members make FTS a thriving program. And each needs to learn from you how best to support local efforts.
Please join us for this information sharing and conversation on how the state of Colorado can help your community start and expand farm to school!
New USDA School Meal Standards
January 25, 2012. First Lady Michelle Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today unveiled new standards for school meals that will result in healthier meals for kids across the nation. The new meal requirements will raise standards for the first time in more than fifteen years and improve the health and nutrition of nearly 32 million kids that participate in school meal programs every school day. The healthier meal requirements are a key component of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which was championed by the First Lady as part of her Let's Move! campaign and signed into law by President Obama.
A Fresh Look at What School Menus Can Be
Dan Forsch, The New York Times
July 17, 2012: With new federal standards for school meals going into effect this month, and a renewed focus on the issue brought by the first lady, Michelle Obama, thousands of school chefs, food service workers and nutrition experts from around the country gathered in Denver this week at an annual conference put on by the School Nutrition Association, a nonprofit organization of school food professionals.