By Beth Heller
October is National Farm to School Month and we’re dedicating this month’s blog posts to exploring some of the more innovative and exciting Farm to School initiatives flourishing in the Greater Green Bay Area.
Farm to School connects communities to local, healthy food and producers by fostering local solutions to increasing the amount of healthy food on the lunch tray and educating students on the food system. To catalyze these conversations, five years ago, Live54218 convened a
task force of nine, local Brown County school districts to activate the community around Farm to School programming. The taskforce is composed of local partners passionate about the health benefits and environmental and economic impact of promoting locally grown food in
our schools. With help from public and private funding partnerships, including the USDA, UnitedHealthCare and KI, Live54218 has been able to leverage funds for a wide variety of initiatives within the task force: from helping school districts purchase essential processing
equipment, to the creation of curriculum-ready Farm to School classroom lessons, to supporting the launch of a consortium of local farmers working under the name of the SLO Co-op to meet the needs of institutional buyers in Greater Green Bay.
Farm to School programming benefits our community at many levels. First, it affirms a shared value: the deep respect for farming and farmland that defines our Greater Green Bay region. Second, a commitment to Farm to School programming teaches our children where food
comes from through classroom lessons, produce taste-tests, farm field trips and school gardens. Research shows that kids who participate in Farm to School programs are not only more willing to try new foods, but also more likely to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables every
day. Finally, Farm to School programs benefit the local economy by encouraging strong relationships between schools and their local farms and keeping local dollars local.
Here are the top “selling points” for a strong Farm to School focus in our local schools:
Education and Academic Achievement
Access to nutritious, high quality local food helps make our kids ready to learn while providing hands-on lessons in health, nutrition, agriculture and land-stewardship. Classroom lessons and school gardens have the potential to improve the health of students, too, by increasing willingness to try new, healthy foods.
Farm to School program builds engagement. Students, parents, teachers, food service directors and school administrators create a network of relationships that strengthen the social and economic fabric of the community.
Future Focused and Sustainable
When food is purchased locally smaller farms thrive, less fuel is expended transporting food and bio-diversity is preserved. Farm to School programs introduce a new generation to innovative, entrepreneurial jobs arising around local and sustainable farming.
Stay tuned for the up-close features looking at the ways these themes are making a positive impact on our local communities and branding the Green Bay area as a leader in the Farm to School movement!