October is National Farm to School Month, a time to celebrate connections happening all over the country between schools, food, and local farmers!
Farm to school enriches the connections communities have with fresh, healthy food and local food producers by changing food purchasing and education practices at schools and early care and education settings. With farm to school, students gain access to healthy, local foods as well as educational opportunities such as school gardens, cooking lessons, and farm field trips.
Over the past decade, the farm to school movement has boomed across the United States, reaching millions of students in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and U.S. territories. Farm to school is an important tool in the fight against childhood obesity and food insecurity. In addition to improving child health, schools create new markets for local and regional farmers and contribute to vibrant communities when they buy locally: a win-win-win scenario!
Green Mountain Farm-to-School works with 24 regional schools to provide comprehensive farm to school programming that reaches across the classroom, cafeteria, and community. In 2018, GMFTS’s five AmeriCorps Farm-to-School Coordinators planted and maintained 19 school gardens, growing produced for school cafeterias, food shelves and GMFTS’s summer meal site, the Lunchbox.
Throughout the school year, FTS Coordinators work to build connections between schools, farms, and communities. Students engaged in experiential education during farm field trips, cooking lessons, taste-tests, and other hands-on activities related to food, nutrition and agriculture.
Green Mountain Farm Direct, GMFTS’s mission-driven food hub, also contributes to creating a robust farm to school program by providing a reliable source for quality local products. During the 2017- 2018 school year, Green Mountain Farm Direct worked with 56 schools to bring healthy, local food onto cafeteria plates – improving childhood nutrition and contributing to local farm viability.
Whether you are a food service professional, a farmer, a teacher or a food-loving family, there are plenty of ways to celebrate and get involved in National Farm to School Month! Find free resources – including posters, stickers, coloring pages, and suggested activities – and a calendar of events happening across the country on the National Farm to School Network’s website at farmtoschool.org.