This post is part of Transform Consulting Group’s blog series highlighting federal programs that provide education opportunities and/or youth development services in communities.
In an effort to bring more local and regional foods into school cafeterias, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) division of Food and Nutrition Services has developed a Farm to School Program. The program incorporates nutrition-based curriculum and provides hands-on learning in activities such as gardening, visiting farms, participating in culinary classes, and working with food-related education in the classroom.
Students have access to more locally grown foods while farmers have the opportunity to educate kids about local foods and agriculture. Since the Farm to School Program encourages schools to buy local, communities benefit from the sales, and schools are provided with fresh food grown nearby.
January Kicks off the USDA Farm to School Webinar Series. This 11-part webinar series will help build farm to school skills and develop new strategies for bringing local foods into the lunchroom. Featured topics will include team building, menu planning, program sustainability, and more! For the full listing of webinars, please visit the website: http://www.fns.usda.gov/farmtoschool/videos-and-webinars.
To find out more about farm to school activities, the USDA distributed a Farm to School Census to 13,133 public schools across the nation. In Indiana, approximately 655 schools with an estimated 402,732 children are participating in farm to school activities. During the 2011-2012 school year, Indiana schools spent an estimated $52,444,060 on school food with $7,224,159 directed locally, meaning $7,224,159 stayed in the local economy!
School districts across the nation spent an estimated $3,006,167,550 on school food in the same year. Of that, $385,771,134 went back to local communities. Click here for more info about the Farm to School Census data. For updates, follow Farm to School on Twitter at #USDAF2S or on Facebook at #farmtoschool.
- To dive deeper into the data provided by the Farm to School Census, the Farm to School Census Explorer Tool can be used to sort data by school, product, sources for local food, grade level engaged, and more, at both the school district and state level.
- The Farm to School Planning Toolkit is another resource to help answer questions and provide guidance for schools interested in starting or enhancing a Farm to School Program.
Transform Consulting Group has expertise collecting community data and analyzing it to identify trends, strengthen organizational outcomes, and suggest program improvements. Contact us today for a free consultation!