Farm to School for a Healthy Future

  • Farm to school is the concept of accessing and understanding the benefits of embracing locally grown food.

    It is about emphasizing ideas such as shopping local for fresh ingredients and not processed foods. Farm to school is about expanding knowledge about food while placing an emphasis on healthy eating and cooking. Farm to school programs are made up of three components: education, local food procurement, and gardening concepts.

    The importance of farm to school

    Farm to school is about empowering K-12 students with the idea of thinking critically about food. In the meantime, the school is supporting local business. Students gain access to healthy, local foods as well as educational opportunities such as school gardens, cooking lessons, and farm field trips.

    Well-executed farm to school programs have shown it can to improve student happiness. 
    Farm to school empowers children and their families to make informed food choices about what they put into their bodies while contributing to their communities and schools.

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    The roots of farm to school

    Farm to school is similar to “farm to fork” or “farm to table.” It is a social movement that promotes serving locally sourced food at restaurants and school cafeterias, preferably through direct acquisition from the producer. The concept is popular among chefs and restaurants and continues to grow in popularity. Farm to school is no different from farm to table. It simply brings these concepts to a younger audience.

    The idea of farm to table or farm to school has been around for 20 years. Farm to school started in Berkeley, Calif. with celebrity chef Alice Waters. She was key to the movement’s start, along with others.

    Farm to school today

    From Waters and other pioneering chefs, the idea of “farm to school” has grown. It now encompasses efforts that bring local or regionally produced foods into school cafeterias on a larger scale.

    In doing so, teachers are supporting hands-on learning activities such as school gardening, farm visits, and culinary classes.

    These activities support both academic learning and foster a connection between local food and healthy eating. They encourage the integration of food-related education into the classroom and develop connections between the school and the local agricultural community.

    Programs can vary depending on geographic location. But the concept can be applied in any school with minimal expense.

    Implementing a Farm to School program

    Getting started with your own Farm to School program means you have to first gain an understanding of the basic concepts. That means being able to identify local resources to support your objectives.

    To do so means exploring examples of formal and informal educational activities that support student learning. Hands-on activities and lessons are crucial. A teacher must learn to identify areas within current curricula (standards or learning objectives) where farm-to-school programming can be integrated to further support the standards-based curriculum.

    Learn more

    A teacher interested in this subject can begin by creating a lesson plan that embeds standards-based learning into the inquiry-based farm to school activities. At the same time, you can develop a network of contacts and potential community partnerships that link farm and food production in the local area to the classroom.

    A professional development course can jump-start your farm to school journey!

    Farm to school provides kids access to nutritious, high quality, local food so they are ready to learn and grow.