At its heart a grassroots effort, farm to school is the practice of sourcing local food for schools or preschools, as well as providing agriculture, health and nutrition education opportunities. Interactive, hands-on experiences are integral to farm to school programs and may include school gardens, farm field trips and cooking lessons. Farm to school practices aim to improve the health of children and communities while supporting local and regional farmers.
“What we see in the legislation is increasing dynamism and synergy between state governments and local food movements, connecting education and agriculture sectors in mutually beneficial partnerships while improving the quality of food available to our children,” said Helen Dombalis, policy and strategic partnerships director for NFSN.
The survey also presents charts categorizing bills by type, making evident themes and differences in state approaches to developing and implementing farm to school programming. In 2013, Alaska, Montana and Oregon provided appropriations or grants for farm to school programs; Mississippi established a farm to school advisory board; and Nevada encouraged its schools to participate in a Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program. Other states commended local efforts, established studies regarding the state of agriculture education, and directed purchasers statewide to develop protocols for buying local food.
“This update is a key tool for the farm to school movement, a concise resource of state-level legislation that other states can look to when developing their own policies,” said Jamie Renner, assistant professor and clinical project lead at CAFS.
The National Farm to School Network, founded in 2007, seeks to create strong and just local food systems that ensure the health of children, farms, the environment, the economy and communities. NFSN provides vision, leadership and support to connect and strengthen the farm to school movement, which includes tens of thousands of schools in all 50 states and DC. For more information about the National Farm to School Network, visit http://www.farmtoschool.org or send an email to info (at) farmtoschool (dot) org.
The Center for Agriculture and Food Systems at Vermont Law School supports scholars and practitioners in producing practical, robust scholarship for use by the food and agriculture community. CAFS offers an expanding curriculum in food and agriculture for law and policy students, and training and legal tools to help build sustainable local and regional food systems. For more information about the Center for Agriculture and Food Systems at Vermont Law School, visit http://www.vermontlaw.edu, call Laurie Ristino, Associate Professor and Director of the Center for Agriculture and Food Systems, at (802) 831-1230 or email lristino (at) vermontlaw (dot) edu.