Farm to School enriches the connection communities have with fresh, healthy food and local food producers by changing food purchasing and education practices at school sand preschools. Students gain access to healthy, local foods as well as education opportunities such as school gardens and in-classroom nutrition education. Farm to School is also an important tool in the fight against childhood obesity and food insecurity. In addition to improving child health, when schools buy local, they create new markets for local and regional farmers and contribute to vibrant communities, a win-win-win scenario!
In Rock County, Chris Blakeney of Amazing Grace Family Farm was able to grow broccoli to be used in Janesville School District lunches. Chris says, “We believe that the Farm to School program is important on many levels. It helps the children understand and appreciate where there food comes from. It also helps to connect them to their community at a young age. And most of all, we believe that it will teach good eating habits that will translate into a healthier generation than the last. We are very excited to continue this great project in the years to come!”
Jim Degan, the Janesville School District Nutrition Program Director, organized the inclusion of Amazing Grace farm fresh broccoli for the entire month of October. In addition, Jim also included local apples to celebrate Farm to School Month. Jim says, “Farm to School and school gardens play a huge roll in educating students to where their food comes from. Local fruits and vegetables have a much brighter color and more flavor than the commercial products we receive. Having students select fruits and vegetables is at times a challenge but if they look better and taste better we have a greater chance of student acceptance.”
The Rock County Farm to School Coalition works towards supporting farmers like Chris and schools like Janesville in starting school gardens and getting local foods into school lunches. Check out fyi.uwex.edu/RockF2S for more information on Farm to School activities in Rock County. If you’re interested in being a part of Farm to School, contact Christy Marsden at 608-757-5695 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Whether you are a food service professional, a farmer, a teacher, or a food-loving family, there are plenty of ways to celebrate and get involved!