What is Farm to School?
Farm to School is a rapidly growing initiative that promotes children’s health by providing fresh, healthy and minimally processed foods to schools, while building markets for farmers whose products have historically been absent from school lunch trays. Farm to School is now happening in Minnesota and across the United States.
Why is Farm to School important?
At IATP, we believe that healthy eating habits are essential to an individual’s lifelong well-being. In particular, children should have access to fresh, healthy foods as part of a nutritionally-balanced school meals program. Studies show that students will eat more fruits and vegetables when they are fresh and picked at the peak of their flavor. Students are also more likely to try new foods when they are part of a Farm to School program.
Who benefits from Farm to School?
Not only does Farm to School improve nutrition for school children, it strengthens local economies by expanding markets for small and mid-size agricultural producers and food entrepreneurs whose products have typically been unavailable at school.
It also enhances children’s “food literacy” by familiarizing students with foods grown nearby, teaches them how and where their food is grown, builds knowledge about how to prepare healthy foods, and educates them about the health, nutrition, social and environmental impacts of food choices. Farm to School can also be a great way to build positive relationships among students, parents, farmers, educators and other members of the community.
What is the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) doing to support Farm to School in Minnesota?
IATP partners closely with the Minnesota School Nutrition Association to build the Farm to School movement across the state. Collaborative efforts include trainings for school food service staff, building connections with farmers, conducting an annual Farm to School survey, and raising public awareness about Farm to School.
IATP has also developed an extensive array of easy-to-use F2S promotional materials for use in the cafeteria, classroom and beyond. Schools who are interested in these materials can learn more at iatp.org/farm2school. Nationally, IATP is an active player in the national Farm to School Network, which advocates for child nutrition and farm policy that supports healthier food environments in schools across the country. We also collaborate with a range of other non-profit organizations and agencies to support Farm to School in Minnesota and nationally. Other organizations working to advance Farm to School are listed in the Resources section of this website.
What foods are served through Farm to School?
Our region provides a year-round supply of fresh, healthy foods grown by independent, small and mid-size farmers and ranchers. This includes fruits, vegetables, specialty meat and cheese, grains, legumes, seeds, nuts, honey, maple syrup, and wild rice among others.
I want to see Farm to School happen in my community. What can I do?
Contact your local school superintendent or school foodservice director and ask them if Farm to School can be started or expanded in your community. Also explore the resources provided in this website, and check-out the map on our Home Page to find schools near you where Farm to School is taking root.