In February 2019, Farm to School Program Manager, Maire Folan, began serving as a coach for the 2019 grantees of the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets (VAAFM) Farm to School Program. The coaching support Folan is providing over the two-year grant period is essential to sustaining the grantee’s Farm to School efforts far into the future and is a part of GMFTS’s larger strategy to strengthen Vermont’s local food systems.

The coaching began with an Action Planning Day in February 2019 that was followed by a series of curriculum workshops, meetings with foodservice professionals on procurement and meal enrollment, and garden workshops. From improving the financial viability of food programs to days spent in the garden learning about farm to school experiential education, each of these support services helps grantees develop best practices to incorporate farm to school programming into the classroom, community, and food program.

Coaching services will continue into the fall, as Folan conducts on-site visits and provides phone consultations each month, providing support and technical assistance aimed at offering the tools and training necessary to create a successful farm to school program.

This work aligns with GMFTS mission to strengthen Vermont’s local food system by promoting positive economic and educational relationships between farms, schools, and communities, Coaching is central to our work with schools developing sustainable programs that build staff capacity to embed Farm to School activities across the classroom, cafeteria, and community.

This level of individualized coaching is important, as every school is different, with distinct priorities and diverse community resources. For this reason, it’s imperative coaching provide different levels of service depending on a school’s readiness for Farm-to-School with the goal of bringing all schools to a thriving program level.