Benefits of Farm To School Programs

by Jasmina Breen

Over 4.9 billion lunches are served in schools every year. That makes 4.9 billion opportunities to support local economies and strengthen our kids’ attitudes toward agriculture, food, nutrition, and the environment.

Farm to school programs are rapidly expanding as schools become aware of alternative approaches to procurement, and The Common Market is at the forefront of the movement. Since 2008, we have partnered with more than 440 school communities to provide fresh, local food access to students and families.

We believe the future of school meals is local. We’re committed to making farm to school easy by providing guidance, pairing schools with resources and ultimately helping support food nutrition directors and staff as they advance their local and values-based purchasing.

How Does Farm To School Impact Communities?

Schools are the center of our communities. They instill foundational values and prepare our kids to build the world they want to live in. There’s no better place to plant the seeds for a sustainable future by explaining—and demonstrating—the impact of local procurement.

When schools are empowered to bring local foods into their cafeterias they’re able to support the local economy and amplify the health and wellbeing of students. The more delicious fresh fruits and vegetables we can incorporate within schools, the more likely kids are to make healthy food choices outside of school.

Exposing kids to high quality produce and teaching them where their food is grown can inspire greater appreciation not just for the flavor of the food itself, but for the work that went into growing it. We can broaden kids' perspectives of global and local food systems so they develop their own understanding of the impact their food choices can have on the causes they care about.

Lessons learned in the lunchroom inspire deeper curiosity in kids and spark further conversation about what an equitable community looks like.

Why Should Schools Source Local Food?

The pandemic showed us how pivotal school meal programs are in combating food insecurity among our nation’s youth. School meals provide critical nutrients to more than 30 million students each day, which adds up to a huge impact on our children’s health.

Not to mention, the volume of food procured to support meal programs make schools one of the largest public purchasers in the nation. If all schools were to shift toward sustainable procurement practices and partner with more local providers, we could meaningfully impact local economies, public health and the climate.

Schools are in a unique position to impact local farmers, communities, and environments by launching farm to school programs that meet the needs of all sides. Committing to values-aligned purchasing practices can address economic disparities, support climate health, create local jobs, spark community engagement, and enhance student wellbeing.

Learn More!

Watch our Farm to School with The Common Market Webinar!

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