Farm to school is the practice of sourcing local food for schools or preschools and providing agriculture, health and nutrition education opportunities, such as school gardens, farm field trips and cooking lessons. Farm to school improves the health of children and communities while supporting local and regional farmers. Since each Farm to School program is shaped by its unique community and region, the National Farm to School Network does not prescribe or impose a list of practices or products for the farm to school approach. The National Farm to School Network supports the work of local farm to school programs all over the country by providing free training and technical assistance, information services, networking, and support for policy, media and marketing activities. Our network includes national staff, eight regional lead agencies and leads in all 50 states. Click on the map above to contact the state lead in your area for more information, or contact someone on our national staff directly. We are here to help you get started and keep programs growing!
What is farm to school?
Farm to school is broadly defined as any program that connects schools (K-12) and local farms with the objectives of serving healthy meals in school cafeterias, improving student nutrition, providing agriculture, health and nutrition education opportunities, and supporting local and regional farmers. Farm to school programs exist in all 50 states, but since farm to school is a grassroots movement, programs are as diverse as the communities that build them.
What are the benefits of farm to school?
Farm to school programs are based on the premise that students will choose healthier foods, including more fruits and vegetables, if products are fresh, locally grown, and picked at the peak of their flavor and if those choices are reinforced with educational activities. Farm to School programs provide benefits to the entire community: children, farmers, food service staff, parents, and teachers.
- The choice of healthier options in the cafeteria through farm to school meals results in consumption of more fruits and vegetables with an average increase of 0.99 to 1.3 servings per day, including at home.
- Schools report a 3 to 16 percent increase in school meal participation when farm-fresh food is served through farm to school programs.
- Farm to school programs open new markets for farmers and help expand their customer base by raising awareness about local food systems.
- Farm to school programs are also known to increase school meal participation rates.
How can I start a farm to school program in my community?
Farm to school programs exist in all 50 states, so support and resources are available no matter where you are. And you don’t have to be a cafeteria manager or school board member to get involved – parents, teachers and even students have the power to start programs and make change happen! For tips and resources to help you get started, visit the National Farm to School Network‘s website, and read the “How to Start a Program” page.