Since 1946, the National School Lunch Program has provided nutritionally balanced, low-cost or no-cost lunches in schools to improve the health and wellbeing of America’s children. Research shows school meals may be the healthiest food children receive in a day, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Local Farmers + USDA Feed Kids with the Farm to School Program
Local farmers and the USDA bring fresh local food to schools to enrich the connection communities have with local food producers with the Farm to School grant program. This program was a part of the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act, like the National School Lunch Program, that aims to increase nutritional value of school lunches and ensure all students have access to healthy, balanced meals.
Supporting your local farmer is an excellent way to boost your local economy while also gaining access to fresh, ethically sourced foods. The Farm to School program takes this a step further by incorporating this concept in our schools. This allows kids to have access to fresh foods while also learning about local farms and how to support the local economy. Here is just a snapshot of the Farm to School program impact …
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, environment, economy and communities.” Farm to school program implementation usually looks like this …
- Procurement: Local foods are purchased, promoted, and served in the cafeteria or as a snack or taste-test
- School gardens: Students engage in hands-on learning through gardening; and
- Education: Students participate in education activities related to agriculture, food, health, or nutrition.
This program is also a win for everyone. School children win because they are eating more nutritious and high-quality foods and the education part of the program offers hands on learning about farming and health. Farmers win because they tap into a new market and have a new, steady stream of income from school systems. Communities win because the local economy is being boosted and there is increased networking between community figures (teachers, farmers, administrators, families). This program is another great step among other USDA/FNS efforts like accepting SNAP at farmers markets and the National School Lunch Program that aim to create a closer community, boost the efficiency of the local food supply chain, and increase access to healthy, nutritious foods for all.