Growing up in rural Johnson County, the idea of farm to school was not a novel concept. Our farm and homestead were just outside the West Branch Community School District boundaries, so my parents would drop my siblings and I off in the mornings and pick us up in the afternoons from the bus stop.
Now, our bus stop was a little different from a bus stop you would find in town – a field inlet off a gravel road. Nonetheless, it still got us where we needed to go!
With October being Farm to School Month, I am thinking about the concept “farm to school” in a slightly different way. At its essence, Farm to School month encourages us to celebrate the connections happening all over the country between children and local food. The National Farm to School network advocated for the creation of National Farm to School Month by Congress in 2010 and now organizes the annual celebration with partners from across the country.
Farm to school implementation differs by location but always includes one or more of the following:
Procurement: local foods are purchased, promoted and served in the cafeteria or as a snack or taste test.
Education: students participate in education activities related to agriculture, food, health or nutrition.
School gardens: students engage in hands-on learning through gardening.
According to the USDA Farm to School Census for the 2013-2014 school year:
42,587 school are participating in Farm to School in some form or fashion.
42% of US Schools are participating in at least one aspect of Farm to School.
23.6 million students are being engaged with Farm to School efforts.
$789 million dollars was spent on local foods.
Farm to School is happening every day right here in Iowa! Check out the Iowa webpage to learn about how to get involved or try out one of the ideas below.
Teachers: connect instructional school gardens and garden-based learning activities to the curriculum.
School food service professionals: do a taste test of local products or feature a special local item for lunch, breakfast, or snacks.
Families: cook with seasonal products. Check out the Iowa Fruit and Vegetable Harvest calendar.
Farmers: become a classroom pen pal. Farm filed trips are great, but stories and photos from the farm are the next best thing.
Organizations and businesses: become an official National Farm to School Month partner!
Partners commit to spreading the word about National Farm to School Month. Suggested
messaging and weekly updates will be provided. Sign up by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Spread the word by sharing campaign content on your social media channels using the hashtags #F2SMonth and #farmtoschool. Follow the National Farm to School Network on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see highlights of National Farm to School Month celebrations across the country throughout October.
Blog provided by: Rachel Wall, MS, RD, LD