Raise the (barn) roof! Schools invest over half a billion dollars in local communities
Photo Credit: USDA Food and Nutrition Service
That, according to preliminary results from USDA’s second Farm to School Census, is how much schools across the country spent on local foods during school year 2013-14. Earlier today, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced this remarkable figure, which represents an increase of $212 million (or 55%) over final results from the last Census, conducted two years ago.
Preliminary numbers also show that more than 42,000 schools are involved in farm to school activities. Whether through buying local foods, building school gardens, or taking a field trip to a local farm, these programs improve child nutrition and provide dynamic educational experiences for students, all the while providing new market opportunities for local and regional farmers.
Indeed, the benefits derived from adopting farm to school strategies are significant. The Census found that school districts participating in farm to school activities enjoyed at least one of the following advantages:
- Greater support from parents and the community
- Greater acceptance of the new meal pattern
- Lower school meal program costs
- Reduced food waste
- Increased participation in school meals
We’re raising the (barn) roof but know that celebrations are always more fun with a friend or two in tow. Please do join us for a review of farm to school accomplishments to date and a discussion of what’s to come for community food systems work at USDA next Thursday, October 29, at 2:00 pm ET.
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