Farm-to-School enhances school food, learning

Date: September 14, 2017 posted by amy mail Twitter facebook

farm to school month logo.jpg

Fresher foods taste better. Less processed foods yield a higher nutritional value. Buying from nearby producers supports the local economy. Introducing youth to fresh, minimally processed foods helps establish healthier habits early. These are the premises for the farm-to-school movement, which has grown from near non-existence in 2011 to a common practice today. 

The farm-to-school movement benefits more than the students (from our view, they're the most important of all!), including local farmers, ranchers, fisheries, processors and your local economy. Money spent in your community, stays in your community. 

Farm-to-school learning

In addition to delivering fresher foods and better tasting meals, farm-to-school supports student learning. Students are taught about the food chain, the science behind planting and harvesting, the economic advantages of buying local and, of course, the nutritional value of healthful foods.

School gardens, which bring farm-fresh produce as close as possible to schools, are gaining in popularity as both teaching tools, and sources of fresh herbs and produce for school meals. These generally modest-sized gardens bring classroom teaching to life for students who marvel in watching seeds sprout into food.


With October designated National Farm-to-School Month, it's the perfect time to shine a spotlight on how your foodservice program incorporates farm-to-school foods and learning to engage with students. 

Many government agencies and nonprofit organizations provide special toolkits, classroom activities and curricula that you may want to use in your buildings in October. Some ideas we've come across:

  • Field trips to local fisheries, dairy or crop farms, or grain elevators
  • Special guest presentations by farmers, ranchers, processors
  • Growing produce in the classroom by planting seeds and watching them grow throughout the month (or year)
  • Doing a classroom exercise on various grains and their origins, planting and harvesting practices, uses in meals, etc.

 

More ideas are available at:

www.usda.gov/farmtoschool

National Farm to School Month fact sheet 

National Farm to School Network website 

National Farm to School Network resource library

USDA Farm to School Planning Kit

USDA Webinar: Planning for Farm to School Success; Tying It All Together and Digging In

Most states encourage farm-to-school by providing suggested activities for students, school resources, and guidance on procuring locally produced foods. Check with your state agency governing school nutrition programs to see what may be available to support your efforts.

Farm-to-School Month may just be one month a year but teaching students about healthy eating, the benefits of fresh foods grown nearby, and supporting the local economy are more than an observation on the calendar. Farm-to-school is a year-round effort.  

(C) 2017 NutriStudents K-12