Celebrate National Farm To School Month This October


Published:

October is National Farm to School Month and communities across the country are celebrating the importance of farm to school programs. These programs, implemented in more than 42,500 schools in the United States, can help improve child nutrition, stimulate local economies, and educate children about where their food comes from and how to make informed food choices.

This year’s theme, One Small Step highlights the simple ways that, students, parents, teachers, nutrition professionals, food producers, and activists can make a difference by learning more about farm field trips, cooking lessons, and taste testing. The National Farm to School Network provides several resources including a toolkit on how to start and develop local farm to school programs, tips on how to ensure the sustainability of a school garden, and an overview of current and pending farm to school-related state and national policies. In addition, National Farm to School Month will highlight the different aspects of farm to school programs by focusing on a new theme every week: education, healthy school meals, farmers and producers, and the next generation.

Farm to school programs have engaged over 23.6 million students and have been shown to provide a multitude of benefits. According to the National Farm to School Network, students in farm to school programs demonstrate increased fruit and vegetable consumption, are more willing to try new foods, and exhibit improved academic outcomes. Christina Plyman, a student volunteer at Boyle County High School’s school garden in Kentucky, says “I’ve seen kids in the cafeteria eat healthier foods because their friends grew it, and they know the garden it was grown in.” Boyle County High School student garden volunteer, Trinity Sinkhorn, also praises the program, explaining “I’m taking on new leadership in our farm to school program and I’m interested in learning new approaches and finding ways to grow our activities.”

In addition to providing learning and leadership opportunities to students, farm to school programs benefit schools and the community. According to a report by UC Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program, participating schools have reported an average increase of 9 percent in school meal participation and have increased local procurement of foods, with some schools sourcing up to 50 percent of their total purchases locally. Meanwhile, local farmers have experienced average income rises and increased market diversification. Upstream Public Health, a public health-focused nonprofit, found that for every US$1 spent on farm to school, US$2.16 is generated in economic activity benefiting the local community.

Farm to school programs may differ from school to school, but all enrich our local communities by changing food purchasing, education, and eating practices at schools and other education sites. Matthew Raiford, Executive Chef of The Farmer & The Larder in Brunswick, Georgia and a sixth generation farmer, addressed the importance of a collective effort to create strong and just local food systems at the 8th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference in June 2016. According to Raiford, “It takes more than a village. It takes villages to build better systems.” Food Tank invites you to join us and the many schools, farms, communities, and organizations around the country in celebrating National Farm to School Month this October.

Below, Food Tank highlights a few outstanding farm to school programs happening around the country.

Abernathy Elementary School, Oregon: Abernathy Elementary’s School Kitchen Garden program provides students with food-based education and the opportunity for hands-on learning at the on-site garden. Oregon may be seeing many more of these programs in the near future thanks to the legislature’s commitment to quadruple the amount of farm to school funding. “The intent was to be able to spread it around and have everybody take advantage of this,” said Rick Sherman of the Oregon Department of Education.

Atlanta Public Schools, Georgia: Last year, Atlanta Public Schools were honored with the Golden Radish Award for doing extraordinary work in farm to school. The district aims to “improve students’ health by offering them more fresh food choices” and “grow their minds with hands-on gardening and food activities.” More than 75 percent of schools conducted taste tests of fresh fruits and vegetables throughout the year and 44 schools had edible learning gardens available to students. 

Good Food for Oxford Schools, Mississippi: Good Food for Oxford Schools, an initiative of the Oxford School District in Oxford, Mississippi, aims to improve school meal offerings and provide nutrition education to students and their families. The program has increased the amount of local fruits and vegetables in school cafeterias and implemented nutrition education lessons in the classroom, emphasizing the importance of a healthy, nutritious diet. Outside of the classroom, Good Food for Oxford Schools offers cooking classes and educational grocery shopping trips for families. 

Jamestown Public Schools, North Dakota: Under Food Service Director Shelley Mack, Jamestown Public Schools has increased local food offerings in schools and installed a school garden, with support from grant funding. The district also runs the Century 21 summer kids program. According to Mack, “Century 21 is a summer day care program for students at Washington this year. In the summer there’s like 80-something kids. We planted beds, so they had hands-on experience.”

Malcolm Price Laboratory School, Iowa: Malcolm Price Laboratory School in Cedar Falls, Iowa, debuted Grassroots Café in 2010, a revamped school cafeteria that provides healthier, better-tasting, local food to students. The cafeteria program was created at the urging of students’ parents with support from the school, Northern Iowa Food and Farm Partnership, and grant funding. The school also runs a school garden and a compost system where students volunteer and participate in hands-on learning.

Messalonskee School Gardens, Maine: Messalonskee High School in Oakland, Maine, was recently honored as Maine School Garden Network’s School Garden of the Month. The school is home to a thriving school garden where students in the Agriculture Club take the lead in growing their own food. Other classes, including Plant Biology and Life Skills also utilize the garden for hands-on learning. What’s more, the garden provides herbs for the school cafeteria.

Montrose School District, Colorado: Nutrition Service Director of Montrose School District in Western Slope, Colorado has transformed school menus by adding fruit and salad bars to all elementary schools and using locally grown produce. The district will soon have more options for locally produced food thanks to a grant from the Colorado Farm to School Task Bank and CoBank that helps small and medium-sized farms meet schools’ food-safety requirements. 

Riverside Unified School District, California: Riverside Unified School District serves over 43,400 students and has demonstrated that farm to school practices can be implemented on a large scale. Each of the 29 elementary schools have a Farmers Market Salad Bar, in which 50-100 percent of salad bar items are locally sourced. In addition, nutrition educators conduct monthly taste tests of fruits and vegetables to increase student interest in salad bar offerings. 

Traverse Heights Elementary School, Michigan: Since fall 2015, Traverse Heights Elementary School has partnered with FoodCorps to enhance their food and nutrition curriculum. FoodCorps service members conducted bimonthly visits to the school to teach about healthy food, run cafeteria taste tests of local produce, and guide garden-based learning. The school serves local food with help from the “10 Cents a Meal” grant, which matches school food spending on local foods. 

Washington County Public Schools, Maryland: Washington County Public Schools serves around 12,000 school lunches every day. Over the last five years, schools have diversified their local food offerings, including Asian pears and Bosc pears. Maryland was the first state to have every public school system participate in Homegrown School Lunch, which promotes Maryland agriculture through school food, classroom programs, and farmer-student interactions.

Marisa Tsai is a Masters candidate of the Food Policy and Applied Nutrition program at Tufts University. In addition to her academics and work with Food Tank, she is involved with the Long Beach Health Department's healthy retail program and nutrition education efforts. Marisa is passionate about food justice, nutrition, and sustainable food policy. Find her on social media: @marzipantsai

Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Daily Astrology

December 7, 2019

An unresolved issue, perhaps from last night, may hang like a cloud over the morning. The Aries Moon is testing Saturn and Pluto. Household chores or a family obligation can also cause friction. Work with partners. If everyone pitches in, chores can be…
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Alternative Health Directory

Browse all listings »

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

December 2019

Join us for a day of holiday shopping while enjoying angel card readings, animal communication, mediumship, palmistry, and other energy sessions from some of New England's top intuitive and...

Cost: $5

Where:
Castleton Event Center
58 Enterprise Dr
Windham, NH  03087
View map »


Website »

More information

“Bringing Energy into Matter” Learn basics of Tachyon, Zero Point Energy and Quantum Physics Tachyonized products and healing tools for purchase Participate in a seeing...

Cost: Free (preregistration is required)

Where:
The Sanctuary for Celestial Empowerment
10 Grassmere Avenue
Suite #300
West Hartford, CT  06110
View map »


Sponsor: Psychotherapy Healing Services, LLC
Telephone: 860-798-6176
Contact Name: Celeste E. Mattingly, LCSW
Website »

More information

Come shine with us! Join us in harmony and in our goal to bring the light of Spiritualism forward to all those who are searching.

Where:
VFW Post 2597
775 Boston Rd, Rt 3A
Billerica, MA
View map »


Sponsor: The Spiritualist Fellowship Church Of New England
Website »

More information

A beautiful collection of messages from Jeshua Ben Joseph (Jesus) that will transform your life, as it did his. Coming together to study these teachings, to ponder, to savor, to deepen our...

Cost: $25 per class

Where:
Heart and Soul Holistic Healing Center
130 Massapoag Avenue
Sharon, MA  02067
View map »


Sponsor: Heart and Soul Holistic
Telephone: 781-258-9942
Contact Name: Barbara Ann Strassman
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

With Pata Suyemoto, PhD Most of the time treatment plans are implemented in a top down fashion, where doctors or teams of practitioners determine what is best for the client and the steps that...

Cost: $0-$30

Where:
CHA Central Street Care Center
26 Central Street
Community Room (2nd floor)
Somerville, MA  02143
View map »


Sponsor: Center for Mindfulness & Compassion
Telephone: 617-591-6132
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Free Evidence-Based Holistic Health Education Program at Wilbraham Senior Center The H.E.A.R.T. Program® (Health Empowerment and Real Transformation), created and instructed by Michelle...

Cost: Free

Where:
Wilbraham Senior Center
45 Post Office Park, #4502
Wilbraham, MA  01095
View map »


Sponsor: Harmony Way
Telephone: 413-636-2475
Contact Name: Michelle Caron
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Join Vesta for a free Divorce Resource Night to gather information about all aspects of the divorce process. About this Event: Are you separated, divorced, or in the process of divorce?...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation
180 Wells Avenue
Suite 300
Newton, MA  02459
View map »


Sponsor: Vesta: Redefining Divorce
Telephone: 508-744-6014
Contact Name: Deanna Coyle
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

At our free Divorce Boot Camp, you will learn how to manage the legal, financial, real estate, mortgage and personal issues related to divorce. About this event: Are you considering, going...

Cost: Free

Where:
Skylark Law & Mediation, PC
9 Main Street
Southborough, MA  01772
View map »


Sponsor: Vesta: Redefining Divorce
Telephone: 508-744-6014
Contact Name: Deanna Coyle
Website »

More information

Join us for two talks with bestselling integrative wellness expert Laura Lagano! Hemp-Derived CBD: Integrating with Your Healing Modality Event for Wellness Practitioners: 2:30–4 pm...

Cost: $29

Where:
Bridge Healing Arts Center
304 Main Street
Farmington, CT  06032
View map »


Sponsor: Bridge Healing Arts Center
Telephone: 860-404-2578
Contact Name: Courtney Yost
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Four week series for girls ages 11 and up with Leigh Sloss This series of classes will focus on some of the most effective yoga and mindfulness skills for reducing stress and anxiety.  In a...

Cost: Series: $75; Drop in rate $20

Where:
YogaLife Institute of NH
6 Chestnut Street
Lower Level
Exeter, NH  03833
View map »


Sponsor: YogaLife Institute of NH
Contact Name: Alice Bentley
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Faust Family Constellations presents The Constellation Approach™ Seminar with Jamy and Peter Faust, facilitators. All issues with family lineage, career, relationship, illness and...

Where:
Belmont, MA


Sponsor: Faust Family Constellations
Website »

More information

Learn to overcome spinal tensions through therapeutic postures, designed to decompress your spine and relieve pain. Taught by a certified yoga therapist, classes bring you through poses...

Cost: 5/$50

Where:
Bliss Through Yoga
484 Bedford St
East Bridgewater, MA  02333
View map »


Telephone: 508-331-3564
Contact Name: Janice O'Brien
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags