There are many farm-to-school programs, at the national, state, and regional level. The overarching objectives of these programs are uniform; to incorporate fresh, local produce into school meal programs. The basic principles of farm-to-school programs are:
Such programs have the potential to provide meaningful connections between the farm and the classroom or lunchroom; a connection that everyone from students to foodservice directors and staff to community farms can benefit from.
One report (Joshi), focused on fifteen farm-to-school program studies to determine common patterns of behavioral change that resulted from program initiatives. Overall the studies found that students demonstrated increases or improvements in the following:
In addition to the positive impacts that farm-to-school programs can have on children, there are several other stakeholders that can benefit from Farm-to-School initiatives.
The USDA provides support for farm-to school initiatives throughout the country. Check out the USDA Farm-to-School Program website to find information about regional support and grants to get your school district involved. Another great resource is the National Farm to School Network, which provides training, funding, and support. Many organizations have farm-to-school coordinators and programs including, state department of agriculture or education, universities, Cooperative Extension offices, trade associations and public health organizations among others! Your local Extension office is a great place to find information about existing programs in your area. For example, check out this program site developed by the Cornell University Farm to School Extension and Research Program for innovative ideas and supportive research about farm-to-school in New York State. Vermont has the Vermont Feed program which offers another example of successful Farm-to-School program. There are many many more, in different areas and states, so see what programs are active in your area or check out existing programs to get ideas on starting your own!
"Getting the Support and Resources You Need to Succeed. "United States Department of Agriculture.
Joshi MS, Anupama, Andrea Misako Azuma MS, and Gail Feenstra EdD, RD. "Do Farm-to-School Programs Make a Difference? Findings and Future Research Needs." Journal of Hunger & Environmental Nutrition. : 37-41. (accessed July 18, 2013).