In the photos you'll see products from Maple Avenue Market and Farm (Sara and Chris Guerre).
Across the country, an increasing number of schools and districts
have begun to source more foods locally and to provide complementary
educational activities to students that emphasize food, farming, and
nutrition. This nationwide movement to enrich children’s bodies and
minds while supporting local economies is often referred to as “farm to
school.” The term encompasses efforts that bring local or regionally
produced foods into school cafeterias; hands-on learning activities such
as school gardening, farm visits, and culinary classes; and the
integration of food-related education into the regular, standards-based
classroom curriculum. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
supports such efforts through its Farm to School Program, which
includes research, training, technical assistance, and grants.
Regional offerings (and therefore economic opportunities for local
food producers) can span the school meal tray and include everything
from fresh fruit and vegetable servings to the wheat in the pizza crust,
beans in the chili, rice in the stir fry, turkey in the sandwiches, and
cheese in the quesadillas. Thus, farm to school includes of all types
of producers and food businesses including farmers, ranchers, and
fishermen, as well as food processors, manufacturers, and distributors.
Schools can define “local” however they choose, and definitions vary
widely depending on the unique geography and climate where the school is
located, and on the abundance of local food producers.
The Farm to School Grant Program
Every year, USDA awards up to $5 million in grants to help schools
connect with local producers and teach kids where their food comes from.
These funds support activities ranging from training, planning, and
developing partnerships, to purchasing equipment, planting school
gardens, and organizing field trips. Grantees include schools and
districts (large and small, rural and urban), Indian tribal
organizations, producers and producer groups, non-profit entities, and
state and local agencies.
We’re here to help!
The USDA Farm to School Program is operated by the Department’s Food
and Nutrition Service (FNS), which has seven regional offices around
the country; in each is a Farm to School Regional Lead who is available
to provide farm to school related support to state agencies and other
entities in their region. A list of regions, along with the names and
contact information for regional and national USDA Farm to School
Program staff, can be found
here. To receive information and updates about USDA’s Farm to School Program, please sign up for our
Farm to School E-letter.