October is National Farm to School Month and we are off to an amazing start! Secretary Karen Ross of the California Department of Food and Agriculture signed a proclamation designating October as Farm to School Month in California last week. CDFA and the Office of Farm to Fork recognize the importance of farm to school programs in the state as a way to support California’s farmers, school children, and the economy.
Farm to School Month provides an opportunity to show all of the great work being done as well as how anyone – students, parents, nutrition professionals – can get involved and make changes to advance farm to school in their local communities. Join schools hosting farm to school activities, like Natomas Unified School District who will take students out to visit a local farm or Oroville schools participating in local Crunch events, where students simultaneously bite into local apples to show their support for healthy, seasonal foods.
Farm to school enriches the connection communities have with healthy food, local producers, and nature by changing food purchasing and education practices at schools and preschools. The most recent USDA Farm to School Census reported that 55% of California schools participate in farm to school activities. This represents over 3.4 million California students, or approximately half of all K-12 students.There are numerous long-standing and emergent farm to school programs throughout the state and the California Farm to School Network aims to inspire, connect, and educate both old and new. To learn more, check out the California Farm to School Network and the National Farm to School Network.
Thanks to everyone who participated in National Farm to School Month! Whether you crunched, planted a garden or participated in another activity, your impact is immeasurable. Well actually….while we can’t measure the way a child’s face lights up when they bite into a persimmon for the first time, we used the data that we received from the Golden Seed Awards applications and the USDA Farm to School Census to measure the broader impact of farm to school statewide. We compiled the data in an infographic that we’re calling “Farm to School Matters.” View the infographic here.
Written by: Jerry Rivero, MPL
Program Manager | OC Food Access Coalition
Click the image to view the full report
As we get ready to celebrate National Farm to School Month, it’s impossible to think about farm to school on a national scale without honoring the contributions that regional organizations have made to the movement. The Orange County Food Access Coalition (OCFAC) works on such efforts through the development of innovative, community based strategies focused on ending hunger and improving the nutritional wellbeing of underserved communities in the county.
Written by: Allie Hoffman, Program Manager with Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF) and Ally Lemmer, FoodCorps CA Fellow
Those of us who have spent time in a school cafeteria have likely seen trash bags bulging with uneaten food. And it’s not just a problem at schools! As according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), more food reaches landfills and incinerators than any other single material in our everyday trash. And potentially more staggering, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) estimates that approximately one-third of all food produced for human consumption [worldwide] is lost or wasted. With the constant struggle to reduce food waste through the state and nation, many programs, both public and private, are now implementing creative ways to educate others about the environmental and economic impacts of food waste. To address food waste, we have curated a list of 5 things you should know about this issue and how you can reduce waste in the cafeteria or at home while still supporting your local community. Continue reading
Written by: Susi Jones, Executive Director of Julian Pathways
Our school-community collaborative knows that healthy schools mean healthy families, communities and students, and that healthy students make better learners. That is why our collaborative partners elected to spend an entire year working on and writing a new Local School Wellness Policy for the Julian Union Elementary School District (JUESD). Continue reading
Written by: Sheila McQuaid, Farm to Fork Coordinator and CFSN North Valley Regional Lead with Center for Healthy Communities (CHC)
The North Valley Region of the California Farm to School Network is comprised mainly of small, rural school districts. Our regional gathering has been focusing on creating community between the nutrition services teams from these districts via a day of connection, education, and celebration of their work. Last year we had teams from four districts demonstrate scratch cooking recipes, and then we all sat down and shared them for lunch.