VT Schools Celebrate Healthy Food, Kids & Communities with National Farm to School Month
Activities in schools around the State showcase benefits of farm to school programs
SHELBURNE, VT– October is National Farm to School month, and schools around the state are reaping the benefits! With a host of harvest festivals and taste tests, work days and classroom activities, schools and organizations around the state are busy celebrating Farm to School (FTS) programs and the numerous ways they help our kids, schools, farms and communities.
In 2010, Congress declared October National Farm to School Month to honor this increasingly important national movement. Vermont schools with active Farm to School programs report twice the national average in vegetable consumption, increased school lunch participation by students and staff, increased training and equipment to provide healthy vegetables in school lunch programs, and more opportunities for kids to meet farmers and learn about health and nutrition.
“The Vermont Farm to School Network aims to build a thriving Farm to School program in every community in Vermont,” said Vermont FEED Project Director Betsy Rosenbluth. “These integrated programs expose kids to new foods and Vermont grown products, while putting money back in the local economy. Communities with active FTS programs also see stronger ties between families, farmers and schools, growth in local food economies and support for farmers.”
Farm to School programs have exploded across the country in recent years: the U.S. Farm to School programs have exploded across the country in recent years: the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s first Farm to School Census estimated that FTS programs in all 50 states are reaching more than 23 million children in over 40,000 schools with an estimated $385 million spent on local food. An estimated 55% of all Vermont schools have active Farm to School programs.
Vermont’s Farm to School programs have led the nation with their innovative “3 Cs” model, creating links between Classrooms, Cafeterias, and the Community, and was the first state in the country to pass Farm to School legislation. Specific activities in schools vary widely, from classroom curriculum to cafeteria taste tests, from purchasing locally-grown foods to visiting nearby farms, from starting school gardens to marketing student grown products.
Farm to School Month activities & opportunities around the State include:
- Applications accepted by the Vermont Agency of Agriculture for $49,000 in statewide Farm to School planning and implementation grant funding. http://agriculture.vermont.gov/producer_partner_resources/funding_opportunities/vaafm_funding/farm_to_school
- Farm to School Love photo contest offered by Vermont FEED, with prizes for the photos best depicting why people love Farm to School. #F2SLove http://www.vtfeed.org/news/enter-farm-school-love-photo-contest
- Harvest Lessons Forum in Woodstock, with professional development opportunities for teachers interested in using Farm to School activities in the classroom. http://cts.vresp.com/c/?VitalCommunitiesInc/d00d2b515b/16bb4d7a1a/172b29ce99
- Ongoing Harvest of the Month activities, recipes, and curriculum for schools to use free of charge. http://www.vermontharvestofthemonth.org/
- Farm and field days incorporating art, science, nutrition, agriculture, math and other areas, such as at NewBrook Elementary in Newfane, featured on VPR. http://digital.vpr.net/post/luskin-farm-school-food
- Harvesting and gleaning activities, resulting in thousands of pounds of local vegetables. Students in the Food Connects School Harvest project harvested sweet potatoes for their cafeterias in the Brattleboro area (http://foodconnects.org/school-harvest-project.html) while volunteers for the Rutland Area Food and Farm Link and Food Connects harvested for the Vermont Food Bank and local food shelves.
- Fundraising through innovative activities like the FarmRaiser program of Vital Communities, which sells local, organic groceries through schools, (http://www.vitalcommunities.org/agriculture/farmraiser.cfm) or the Taste of Tunbridge community potluck dinner, with dishes cooked by each elementary school class.
- Activities celebrating National School Lunch Week October 13-17, such as the Lothrop School’s “Take Your Parents to Lunch Day” in Pittsfield. http://www.schoolnutrition.org/NSLW2014/
- Harvest festivals, fundraisers and events including at the Bellcate School in Essex Junction, Cornwall School, and Richmond Elementary and Green Mountain Farm-to-School’s Harvest Potluck.
- Activities celebrating FOOD Day on October 24, bringing people together to “enjoy real food and to push for improved food policies.” http://www.foodday.org/
Schools or communities interested in starting or expanding a Farm to School program can visit the Vermont Farm to School Network at www.vermontfarmtoschool.org for resources, funding opportunities, and event listings.
The Vermont Farm to School Network is working to make sure every Vermont student and school community is engaged in a local food and farm culture that nurtures children’s health, cultivates viable farms, and builds vibrant communities. We provide statewide leadership, coordination, and advocacy to advance new and existing Farm to School efforts in Vermont classrooms, cafeterias and communities. Join us and learn more at www.vermontfarmtoschool.org to learn more.
Vermont Food Education Every Day (VT FEED)
brosenbluth [@] shelburnefarms [.] org
 Statistics according to a report by Shelburne Farms to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.