What is Farm to School?
Farm to school enriches the connection communities have with fresh, healthy food and local food
producers by changing food purchasing and education practices at schools and preschools.
Students gain access to healthy, local foods as well as education opportunities such
as school gardens, cooking lessons and farm field trips. Farm to school empowers children
and their families to make informed food choices while strengthening the local economy
and contributing to vibrant communities. Farm to school implementation differs by
location but always includes one or more of the following core elements:
- Procurement: Local foods are purchased, promoted and served in the cafeteria or as a snack or
- Education: Students participate in education activities related to agriculture, food, health
or nutrition; and
- School gardens: Students engage in hands-on learning through gardening.
Benefits of Farm to School
Benefits to Students
Research shows that students who participate in farm to school programs show an increased
willingness to try new fruits and vegetables. Kids that have easy access to a variety
of high quality fruits and vegetables eat more of them. By combining increased access
to local and fresh fruits and vegetables with farm to school educational activities,
children demonstrate healthier nutrition behaviors.
Benefits to local producers and their communities
Farm to school programs create a new market opportunity for food producers and businesses
within their own communities. By establishing either “forward contract” or an informal
purchasing agreement with a school district, food producers can plan their upcoming
production season and volume knowing that they have a committed buyer for their products.Farm
to school programs create more security for local producers, allowing them to continue
farming on their land, preserving the agricultural heritage of our communities.
Benefits to school food service programs
Farm to school provides an excellent marketing opportunity. These programs can enhance
student and staff participation in school meal programs by offering fresh and delicious
foods. Farm to school programs present a natural connection between the school food
service program and classrooms. The cafeteria becomes part of the learning environment
for the students. Farm to school programs provide a wonderful opportunity for the
school food service staff to connect with the food producers in their community and
become important stakeholders in improving their community’s access to healthy, delicious
For more information and research on the benefits of farm to school practices, download
the National Farm to School Network's Benefits Fact Sheet.
If you are ready to roll up your sleeves and get to work, head over to the Resources page for steps to getting started and a bounty of toolkits, guides, and materials.