What is Farm to School?
Farm to School is the name used to describe activities that promote and serve locally produced foods in cafeterias, classrooms and the community. Farm to School implementation differs by location but always includes one or more of the following:
There are many ways to get involved in farm to school initiatives – even small ways. Schools may:
- Procurement: local foods are purchased, promoted and served in the cafeteria or as a snack or taste-test;
- Education: students participate in educational activities related to agriculture, food, health or nutrition; and,
- School gardens: students engage in hands-on learning through gardening.
Farm to school is a win-win-win–students win, farmers win and the communities win! Farm to School empowers students and their families to make informed food choices while strengthening the local economy and contributing to vibrant communities.
- Serve local food at breakfast, lunch, or during snack time.
- Incorporate school gardens or food preparation within classroom lessons.
- Feature local foods in healthy school fundraisers.
- Engage students in trips to a farm or bring farmers to school to serve breakfast or lunch.
- Establish composting and waste management programs.
Farm to School in Minnesota
Minnesota has seen rapid growth of Farm to School. The number of Minnesota school districts engaged in Farm to School practices rose from 18 districts in 2006 to 268 districts in 2014. According to the most recent USDA Farm to School Census data, schools that responded reported spending 13 percent of their budgets on local products, with a total of $12 million invested in the Minnesota economy through purchasing local foods.