The Growing “Farm to School” Network Connects Students to Their Food

The “farm to table” trend has become a staple of restaurants, highlighting the need for healthier, sustainable connections between the people who grow and raise our food and the people who serve it. Now, “farm to school” programs are taking the idea one step further.

Understanding the importance of early edification, the farm to school mission is to connect children with the source of their food. This improves health and education outcomes and promotes equity in the food system while also inspiring youth toward careers in agriculture through variety of activities conducted by child nutrition program operators.

Students gain access to healthy, local foods as well as enhanced education through school gardens, cooking lessons and field trips to farms and fields. This helps curate a strong connection between communities and their local food producers, and the fresh, healthy food options farmers provide. By influencing better food purchasing and education practices at schools and other early care settings, farm to school also help empower children and their families to make informed food choices beyond the classroom as well.

Farm to School Benefits for Farmers As Well

The benefits of the program are manifold. Farm to school have strengthened local economies and contributed to vibrant communities. Operators of child nutrition programs purchased more than $1.26 billion (yes, billion) in local foods for the 2018-2019 school year alone, and the program has only continued to grow. Over 70% of the school food authorities conducting farm to school activities reported purchasing local foods for their child nutrition program meals (source). This provides a substantial opportunity for local farmers, fishers, ranchers, food processors, and other food manufacturers in the United States.

Farm to School and the Tools to Make It Work

NCCO is helping school food service operators navigate an ever-changing foodservice landscape. NCCO has long prioritized healthier food options and sustainability in schools to ensure children have access to the best food and education this country has to offer.

As farm to school education continues to expand, NCCO is here to help education and early care institutions at every level remain cognizant of food allergies, dietary sensitivities, and other food safety requirements to ensure students are safe and can fill their minds and stomachs without worry.

Eating well is not limited to what’s on the tray or in the vending machine. Farm to school programs bridge the gap between what students are eating and where it comes from, and highlights how important it is to have proper nutrition in schools. NCCO offers several tools to help foodservice education run smoothly as your farm to school partner every step of the way.

See how NCCO can help  

Learn more about Farm to School