National Farm to School Network Nourishing Kids and Community
The National Farm to School Network envisions a nation in which Farm to School programs are an essential component of strong and just local and regional food systems, ensuring the health of all school children, farms, the environment, economy and communities.
Farm to School is broadly defined as a 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. 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.
At its core, Farm to School is about establishing relationships between local foods and school children. Farm to School programs include (but are not limited to):
- Including local products in school meals-breakfast, lunch, afterschool snacks-and in taste tests, educational tools and classrooms snacks.
- Introducing food-related curriculum development and experiential learning opportunities through school gardens, farm tours, farmer in the classroom sessions, chefs in the classroom, culinary education, educational sessions for parents and community members and visits to farmers' markets.
The National Farm to School Network aims to enable every child to have access to nutritious food while simultaneously benefiting communities and local farmers.
The National Farm to School Network supports the implementation of Farm to School in all 50 states and the District of Columbia through focused work in the following priority areas: 1) policy development; 2) training and technical assistance; 3) information development and dissemination; 4) networking; 5) media and marketing; and 6) research and evaluation.
Our network includes national staff, eight regional lead agencies, 50 state leads who serve as local points of contact for information and resources, and thousands of Farm to School advocates and community leaders from all over the country. Join our network and you will receive our email newsletter. You will also be able to add events and information to our website.
Benefits of Farm to School
- Strengthen children's and communities' knowledge about, and attitudes toward, agriculture, food, nutrition and the environment.
- Increase children's participation in the school meals program and consumption of fruits and vegetables, thereby improving childhood nutrition, reducing hunger, and preventing obesity and obesity-related diseases.
- Benefit school food budgets, after start-up, if planning and menu choices are made consistent with seasonal availability of fresh and minimally processed whole foods.
- Support economic development across numerous sectors and promote job creation.
- Increase market opportunities for farmers, fishers, ranchers, food processors and food manufacturers.
- Decrease the distance between producers and consumers, thus promoting food security while reducing emissions of greenhouse gases and reliance on oil.