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Benefits of Farm-to-School Programs

The farm to school movement has increased access to fresh produce in schools for decades, with great success!

In this article, you’ll learn about some of the different benefits of farm to school programs.

Farm to school is done differently, depending on the school.

Schools can simply purchase fresh produce from local farms for use in meals.

Or the schools can start their own garden or farm, which doubles as an educational tool.

The farm to school movement helps schools find ways to bring local food, gardens and agriculture education to campus.

It started in the late 1990s as a small operation, but has since grown to include 42,000 schools in all 50 states, helping 23.6 million children.

In 2007, the National Farm to School Network launched, to give the movement better organization, so it could make a bigger difference.

The farm to school movement is more than just bringing fresh food to schools, though.

In addition to improving health, it also has several community and educational benefits.

Here are five benefits of farm to school programs.

Leads to healthier kids

Studies show that farm to school programs result in healthier students.

When schools serve local produce, students are 33% more likely to choose healthier options during meals.

And when schools have gardens on campus, students are 44% more likely to eat fruits and vegetables.

Studies also show that these students are less likely to eat unhealthy foods and sodas too.

Students who go to schools with a farm to school program eat one more serving of fruits and veggies, than students who don’t have a program at school. This includes meals at home too!

Leads to healthier adults

Farm to school programs lead to healthier adults too!

Farm to school programs, make it more likely that children will ask their families to buy healthier food for home.

This has shown to improve food security of the adults in the household as well.

Plus, when kids are exposed to gardening at a young age, they’re more likely to eat fruits and vegetables as young adults.

Studies show that the school’s food service staff also benefits from farm to school programs.

They become more knowledgeable and interested in local food and happier and more motivated at work.

Provides hands-on learning opportunities

Farm to table programs, also provide children with hands-on learning opportunities, which comes with its own benefits.

These opportunities help children grow socially and emotionally by improving life skills, self-esteem, social skills and behavior.

It also teaches students about STEM concepts, increasing their knowledge of science, agriculture, local foods and the environment.

As a result, studies show that students who attend schools with farm to school programs, have higher grades and test scores.

Helps local economy

Farm to school also helps the local economy.

Up to two jobs are created in the surrounding area every time the school district creates a job for their farm-to-table program.

This is due to the additional economic activity that happens because of the program.

And since schools are purchasing from local farms instead of nationwide distributors, more money is kept in the local economy.

In fact, whenever a dollar is invested in a farm to school program, it generates an additional $0.60 to $2.16 of income in the local economy.

It also helps the farmers directly, as they’re able to establish long-term revenue.

Farm to school, also helps farmers build positive relationships with school districts, families and other community members.

Schools make more money from farm to school programs too!

Studies show that students and teachers purchase school meals an average of 9% more at schools with farm food programs.

This generates more revenue through lunches, while also decreasing program costs!

Helps low income students

Low income students, especially, benefit from farm to school programs.

Beyond just providing them more access to healthy food, it also helps them engage in the community.

For example, the programs encourage students to participate in food and environmental issues in their communities.

This promotes environmental equity and encourages them to see sustainability as a tool for social justice.

It also increases their opportunities for fighting racial and economic inequities in the school food system.

As you can see, there are a lot of great benefits of farm to school programs.

If you want to start a farm to school program at your school, we have a great solution!

To learn more, call 602-753-3469 or visit our website.