Every four or five years in the U.S, an opportunity arises for all concerned with the health of our nation’s children to evaluate, defend, and improve federal Child Nutrition Programs. These programs were born in the post-World War II era with the goal of improving national security through improving the nutritional status of future soldiers. They were expanded in the 1960s and 1970s as part of civil rights struggles to reduce hunger and poverty. Now, in 2009, with our nation’s health security and survival of family farming at risk, it is the perfect opportunity to revamp Child Nutrition programs to enable more schools—and more children—to benefit from the healthy meals and educational opportunities that farm to school programs can provide. The current Child Nutrition Act expired in September 2009 and received an extension until October 2010, thus, we are in the heat of the child nutrition policy battle at this very moment. School meals are a vital part of our responsibility to ensure the health and wellbeing of future generations. Improving the quality of school meals, and making them accessible to all children, is essential to our nation’s future. More than 30 million children eat school food five days a week, 180 days a year. Over the past 60+ years, school meals have helped our nation make impressive strides toward improving childhood nutrition and reducing childhood hunger. Yet in recent years, school meals are confronting new challenges. School food services are fighting an uphill battle to provide kids with healthy food. Soaring food and energy costs, the lure of fast food outside the school campus, budgetary pressures caused by tight state budgets and diminished tax revenues all stand in the way of food services being able to provide healthy and delicious meals to schoolchildren. School meals are an important way to turn around our nation’s burgeoning obesity epidemic.
For the Children: Childhood obesity is a critical public health problem in the United States. One-third of U.S. children are obese or overweight. Over the past three decades, obesity rates have quadrupled in 6-11 year olds and tripled in 12-19 year olds.
Obese children are more likely to develop Type 2 Diabetes, high blood pressure and high blood lipids. It is now predicted that 1 out of 3 children will develop diabetes in their lifetime, make that one in two if the child is Hispanic or African American. Diabetes cost $218 Billion in 2007 in U.S. We can prevent Type II Diabetes. For example, in American Indian youth, 86% of the diagnosed diabetes is now Type 2, which used to be almost nonexistent in children.. Only 2% of children meet the Food Guide Pyramid serving recommendations. Regular access to healthy food has been proven to be one of the strongest predictors of improved school performance.
For the Farmers: The number of U.S. farms has plunged from 3.7 million in 1959 to just 1.9 million today. There are more prisoners than farmers in the U.S. The farmer’s share of every food dollar has dropped to 19 cents from 41 cents in 1950. As a result, family farmers have a hard time just breaking even. Three hundred thirty farm operators leave the farm every week, and the average age of farmers nationally is 57 years.
The Farm to School program teaches students about the path from farm to fork, and instills healthy eating habits that can last a lifetime by introducing children to juicy, local apples and freshly harvested, crunchy carrots. At the same time, use of local produce in school meals and educational activities provides a new direct market for family farmers in the area and mitigates environmental impacts of transporting food long distances. If school lunch can taste great, and support the local community, it is a win-win for everyone.
Farm to School is a comprehensive program that extends beyond farm fresh salad bars and local foods in the cafeteria to include waste management programs like composting, and experiential education opportunities such as planting school gardens, cooking demonstrations and farm tours. The Farm to School approach helps children understand where their food comes from and how their food choices impact their bodies, the environment and their communities at large.
Jr. Iron Chef, Cooking Up Change, etc.
Activities to involve parents and community members – parents invited to a meal cooked by students
HEALTH —KIDS WIN The choice of healthier options in the cafeteria through farm to school meals results in consumption of more fruits and vegetables at school and at home. For example, studies in Portland, OR, and Riverside, CA, have found that students eating a farm-fresh salad bar consume roughly one to one and a half additional serving of fruits and vegetables per day. Farm to school programs have increased the willingness of students to try out new foods and healthier options. In one school in Ventura, CA, on days in which there was a choice between a farmers’ market salad bar and a hot lunch, students and adults chose the salad bar by a 14 to 1 ratio.
AGRICULTURE —FARMERS WIN In March 2005 the Riverside Unified School District (RUSD) in Riverside, California launched its Farm to School Salad Bar Program which now operates in 22 schools. An unexpected result of the program at Jefferson has been a nearly 9% increase in overall school meal participation, including exponential growth in the number of teacher meals served. Rodney Taylor, the Child Nutrition Director, spends about $250,000 per year in food purchases from local farms. Worcester Public Schools have seen a fifteen percent increase in school lunch purchases since the district began buying locally through the Massachusetts Farm to School Program. But these benefits are not limited to the schools. The sixty farms providing products to local schools in Massachusetts are generating more than $700,000 in additional revenue each year . One of the pioneers of the farm to school approach, the New North Florida Cooperative Association, Inc. has been working with school districts since 1995 to provide fresh produce for school meals. This group of innovative African-American farmers—60 to100 farmers based in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Arkansas—has served collard greens and other vegetables to more than a million students in 72 school districts.
ECONOMICS —COMMUNITIES WIN An Oregon pilot &quot;Farms to Schools&quot; program in Portland and Gervais school districts that provided an additional seven cents per meal for schools to purchase local agricultural products has proved successful and demonstrated potential for not only providing healthier food to students but also for stimulating Oregon's economy. A preliminary analysis by Ecotrust, a Portland-based organization promoting use of local products in public schools, indicated that the $66,000 provided to the schools resulted in $225,000 in local purchases and that for every dollar the schools spent, an additional 87 cents was spent in Oregon. Chicago Public Schools are working with farmers and processors located within 150 miles of the city, including in Michigan, to serve fresh local fruit and vegetables to more than 300,000 students throughout the year. Chicago has found a cost-effective way to make fresh local produce including apples, corn, peas, carrots, and green beans, frozen within 48 hours of harvest, accessible and available to students year round.
who was digging potatoes at a Farm to School harvest.
What can farm to school do in our vision of the Food System Important to keep in mind that we are working under the current food system – tweaking it. Inputs and Natural Resources (less pesticides, fertilizers, oil to produce food) – Processing (opportunities for local processing , direct relationships ) – Distribution (local and regional systems, shorter distances, less oil use – Locavore movement ) – Transformation (need kitchen staff training, equipment, systems in place) – Consumption (healthier, better for the food system) SCHOOLS CAN PLAY A ROLE IN TRANSFORMING THE FOOD SYSTEM
The Farm to School Movement is sweeping across the country. Growing from a handful of programs just ten years ago, there are now approximately 2,000 Farm to School programs in over 10,000 schools across 42 states. 1996-1997 Birth of farm to school through pilot projects in California (Santa Monica-Malibu USD and The Edible Schoolyard, Berkeley) and Florida (New North Florida Marketing Cooperative). 2000 USDA IFAFS supports the establishment of the National Farm to School Program enabling program development, research, and policy. 2001 USDA AMS began organizing farm to school workshops around the country as part of the Small Farms/School Meals Initiative. Groundbreaking meetings brought farmers and food service together for the first time to discuss how to implement farm to school programs in Kentucky, Iowa and Oregon. Estimated 6 pilot programs operational* 2002 1st regional Farm to Cafeteria conference organized at Cornell University (with support from University of New Hampshire). 1st Farm to Cafeteria Conference in October in Seattle, Washington with approximately 200 attendees. 2004 National Farm to School Program authorized in statute in the 2004 Child Nutrition Reauthorization. (While the program has been established, it has not yet received any federal funding.) National survey of farm to school projects with an estimated 400 programs in 22 states.* Launch of www.farmtoschool.org. Informal discussions about a National Farm to School Network begin.
2005 Planning grant received for National Farm to School Network from Kellogg. 2nd Farm to Cafeteria Conference in June in Gambier, Ohio with over 350 attendees. 2005-2006 Regional meetings held across the country to gather feedback on need for a national network and setting priorities; national survey estimates 1000+ programs.* 2006 National Farm to School Network proposal submitted to Kellogg in July. 2007 3rd Farm to Cafeteria Conference in March in Baltimore, Maryland with over 400 attendees. Kellogg grant approved in May. Regional Lead Agencies in eight regions established; national staff hired, plans for developing the network over next 3 years in place in September. Updated National Farm to School website launched in October. 2008 15 national leaders involved as “Partners of the National Network” and “Program Strategy Advisory Committee” to guide national efforts. Regional Farm to School Steering Committees established. Estimated over 2000 programs in 39 states*
Started in 2000, one school- brought together three non-profits that work with different populations A community-based approach to school food systems change through 3 C’s:
In Philadelphia currently, the KI runs in 27 schools – 3,510 dollars a week going back to independent locally owned businesses – Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative is a cooperative of organic fruit and vegetable farmers- started with 5 farmers and sold only to high end restaurants, they needed to find a market for farmers that had a couple of items that weren’t so high end- and in quantity- they now are our sole source of produce they have 47 farmers- and are part of a pilot in 5 high schools the first time ever Philadelphia school district has written a contract for fresh fruits and vegetables Joe was a independent coffee bar in a city full of star bucks – sourced sustainable beans and was struggling to make ends meet- he worked with us to develop healthy baked products- such as butternut squash muffins and fruit leathers- out of local product- he loved developing the recipes and started sourcing local product for his store as well developing soups etc. but developed the baked goods into a product he now sells across the city at farmers markets and directly to schools and aftercare programs- schools now hire him for recipe development and directly purchase his product Pequea Valley Yogurt is an grass based Amish dairy that was selling their yogurt in specialty shops, we contacted them and tried their yogurt- we loved it but they only had a high fat version and were using a higher sugar fruit base- for the KI they developed a low fat yogurt in a smaller container- 20,000 yogurts were sold last year and many schools are interested if they can increase capacity Iovine brothers had a large produce stand- they process all of our fruits and vegetables and provide us with tropical produce in the winter- we also serve pineapple, mangoes, and citrus fruits to demonstrate what does not grow local - they have started sourcing locally for their stand and purchased a truck for distribution- with the new fresh fruit and vegetable dollars schools are now contracting with Bovines- an independent and locally owned family business for the FFV program- and Bovines knows exactly how to source locally when possible
Fruit and Vegetable consumption increased 30%, participation 16% To protect farmland, improve kid’s health, and reduce energy and waste, all by promoting local foods
Even though this was initiated under a farm to school guise- the policy was far reaching and applied to many of washingtons public food services and state contracts- an example of an initiative – by using farm to school- worked on increasing access to local foods for low income participants $600,000 for Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program all together Expands and increases funding for the Farmers Market Nutrition Program- WIC and low-income seniors Washington Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program to low-income schools Farmers Market Technology Program- for wireless EBT cards Food Bank Pilot for fresh, locally grown product
For example, Rhode Island farmers obtain a 5% income tax credit, based on the cost of production, if they sell to local schools, offering incentive for farmers to participate in farm to school programs. In Vermont, HB 456 encourages farm to school initiatives through improvements to local infrastructure and education. The Commissioner of Education is to award small grants from the education fund to schools that use Vermont products in their school meals and provide nutrition education for students. It also establishes a mini-grant program, with maximum awards being $15,000, to assist with purchasing equipment, resources and materials that increase local purchasing and education regarding nutrition and agriculture. Grants may also be used for professional development for teachers to learn more about farm to school connections. The Department of Agriculture is to make one-time awards to local processors who are processing local produce for Vermont schools or institutions, while the food service personnel and Commissioner of Education are to provide training in local purchasing and processing for food service providers. This bill also requires that a report be submitted to appropriate legislative committees on how to increase local purchasing by state entities. The federal government can learn from the example of these states. The 2004 Child Nutrition Act reauthorization included just one provision on farm to school: a seed grant program with $10 million in discretionary funding that has failed to receive an appropriation. But farm to school projects are growing explosively, and multiple policy strategies are needed to capture this momentum and propel them to the next level.
The National School Lunch Program is the nation’s second largest food and nutrition assistance program with over 214 billion lunches served since it’s inception in 1946. In 2007, it operated in over 101,000 public and non-profit private schools and provided over 30.5 million low-cost or free lunches to children on a typical school day at a Federal cost of 8.7 billion for the year. The Food and Nutrition Service administers the program at the Federal level and at the State level, State education agencies operate the program through agreements with School Food Authorities. For a quick 101 on how the NSLP works: schools get cash subsidies and donated commodities from the USDA for each meal they serve. Children from families with incomes at or below 130% of the poverty level are eligible for free meals, that is $27,560 for a family of four. Those with incomes between 130% and 185% of the poverty level are eligible for reduced-priced meals, which students can be charged no more than 40 cents. In addition to the cash reimbursements, schools receive commodity foods, called “entitlement” foods, at the value of $0.20.75 cents for each meal served in 08-09. The lunches must meet Federal requirements, and they must offer free or reduced price lunches to eligible children. The question we have the opportunity to answer during the reauthorization process is “Does the NSLP achieve the original purpose of the program, which is “to promote the health and well-being of the Nation’s children”
The National Farm to School Network sprouted from this desire to support community-based food systems, strengthen family farms, and improve student health by reducing childhood obesity. Eight regional lead agencies and national staff provide free training and technical assistance, information services, networking, and support for policy, media and marketing activities.
We are making a difference one classroom, cafeteria and community at a time, because all children deserve healthy food. Farm to School programs are a model for improving the school food environment by providing farm fresh and healthy foods, as well as providing alternative marketing avenues for small farmers, and tying in educational opportunities that touch upon nutrition and health, food systems, agriculture and the environment.
National Farm to School Network Debra Eschmeyer November 3, 2009 Transform the Tray
“ Farm to School programs connect school food with local agriculture to create a strategy that increases the profitability of farming, improves the quality of school meals, and re- create relationships in the community among consumers and the people who grow their food. ”
Health: Kids Win The choice of healthier options in the cafeteria through farm to school meals results in consumption of more fruits and vegetables with an average increase of one serving per day, including at home.
Agriculture: Farmers Win Farm to School programs can open up the expansive school food market, estimated at more than $12 billion a year, to socially disadvantaged farmers.
Economy: Communities Win For every dollar spent on local foods in schools, one to three dollars circulate in the local economy.
Fast fact : In the U.S., it takes the typical food item 1,500 to 2,400 miles to travel from farm to plate. A head of California lettuce shipped to Washington, DC, requires 36 times more fuel energy just to transport than the caloric food energy it provides.
" All of a sudden, I’m watching the weather forecast to see how crops might fare ,” Clare Columbus Boston Food Service Director
“ For the six or eight weeks I get tomatoes, I get them for the same price, which helps stabilize my budget. For us, it’s a win-win situation. We get to support the farmers in our local area. We’re someone they can depend on. In turn our kids are saying, “ We really like this .” Mary Ann Lopez, South Windsor’s School Nutrition Specialist and Food Service Director
Inputs Food Consumption Food Distribution Food Processing Ingredient Production Natural Resources Waste and Recycling Food Transformation Schools Contracts with food manufacturers commissary kitchens prepared foods Contracts with national distributors and fast food chains Minimal preparation mostly heated and served surplus commodities from USDA constant and consistent supply
Food Consumption Food Distribution Food Processing Local / Regional Farmers / Ranchers Natural Resources Waste and Recycling Food Transformation School Local slaughterhouses Local food preservation Local commissary kitchen Regional aggregation sites and direct sales Seasonally-based cooking with all local menus direct partnerships with farmers for purchasing onsite growing contracted growing and farm visits by teachrs, students, and school food service staff school gardens classroom cooking , nutrition education, taste tetsts farm-based field studies Local foods in cafeterias Lesser food waste, reusables, compostable food trays, increased awareness Less pesticide / chemical use on land, water, air, less energy used Care for natural resources Healthier, local , less processed foods, Consumer knows where food is coming from
- salad bars -hot entrees / other meal items -snack in classroom -taste tests -fundraisers
Educational Activities: - chef/farmer in class, cooking demos -greenhouses, waste management, recycling, and -composting -farm tours -harvest of the month -CSA in the classroom -School gardens
Implementing Farm to School
Student: Why don’t we get fresh lettuce and local watermelon at school lunch ? Parent Food Service Director Principal National Food Distributor School Board Food Processor Teacher Nutritionist Contracted Food Service Provider
Chronology 1996-1997 California (Santa Monica-Malibu USD and The Edible Schoolyard, Berkeley) and Florida (New North Florida Marketing Cooperative). 2000 National Farm to School Program 2001 USDA AMS Small Farms/School Meals Initiative 2002 1st national Farm to Cafeteria conference 2004 National Farm to School Program authorized; 400 programs in 22 states Launch of www.farmtoschool.org.
Chronology 2005 2nd Farm to Cafeteria Conference in Ohio with over 350 attendees. 2005-2006 Regional meetings held across the country to gather feedback on need for a national network and setting priorities; national survey estimates 1000+ programs. 2007 3rd Farm to Cafeteria Conference in March in Maryland with over 400 attendees. National Farm to School Network established with 8 Regional Lead Agencies and 4 national staff 2009 4 th Farm to Cafeteria Conference in March in Oregon with over 650 attendees. Estimated over 2000 programs in 42 states
Policy alliance was spearheaded by environmental group with farm preservation, public health, anti-poverty advocates
Comprehensive legislation :
2 Full Time positions to coordinate local food procurement inside of Departments of Ag and Education
Requires all state food contracts to include a plan to maximize the availability of Washington grown food purchased through the contract.
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack: “My job is to listen to the president, who is the ultimate vision maker…The vision is, he wants more nutritious food in schools. In a perfect world, everything that was sold, everything that was purchased and consumed, would be local so the economy would receive the benefit of that. One thing we can do is work on strategies to make that happen.” Washington Post 2/11/09
1966 : Serving 3 billion meals to 19 million children. The Child Nutrition Act passed creating a two-year pilot School Breakfast Program.
1970 : Free and reduced priced meals eligibility standards established
1972 The National Soft Drink Association introduces an amendment eliminating the restrictions on competitive foods. Vending machines entered schools.
1973 Jean Mayer, Nixon’s nutrition adviser, warns the President of a threatening national epidemic of obesity.
1978 Last greatest movement for CNR with increased eligibility, reduced meal prices, and increased breakfast reimbursements.
1981 Overall cut of 28% affected multiple child nutrition programs. Approximately 2 million children are dropped from the NSLP. Ketchup and pickle relish are declared vegetables.
1994 Schools required lunches to conform to the Dietary Guidelines by 1996 USDA established Team Nutrition and launched the Healthy School Meals Initiative to support improvements in school lunch and increased nutrition education for children.
2004 National Farm to Cafeteria Program authorized but not funded and School Wellness Policies created.
2008 Farm Bill allows geographic preference
2009 MONUMENTAL CHANGE TO SCHOOL LUNCH (what we hope to see here!)
“ I've learned that if it's fresh and grown locally, it's probably going to taste better. That's what I learned. And that's how I've been able to get my children to try different things, and in particular fruits and vegetables. So to make sure that we give all our kids a good start to their day and to their future, we need to improve the quality and nutrition of the food served in schools. We're approaching the first big opportunity to move this to the top of the agenda with the upcoming reauthorization of the child nutrition programs. In doing so, we can go a long way towards creating a healthier generation for our kids.” Michelle Obama Change is in the air (and soil!)
“ Dear Shcool Board, Well I herd that we only get crunch lunch on 2 days of the week. How do you expect us to stay helthey? How do you expect us to live with the meatlof? Well, I hope you do sumthing .” Student at Davis Joint Unified School District (CA) to the School Board supporting the Davis Farm to School Salad Bar Program