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A Growing Movement: A Decade of Farm to School in California

2007 | Download

Serving food grown in California in the state’s schools is clearly not a recent development, but systematically connecting California’s food and farms with its schools is. Only in the past decade has farm to school emerged as a movement to change the way children understand food and to offer farmers new markets for what they produce. From a handful of local efforts about ten years ago, farm to school has grown to involve 85 California school districts—and the movement continues to grow through a combination of local and statewide coordinating efforts.

Farm to school provides a model for positively influencing children’s eating habits through school cafeteria improvements, hands-on nutrition education, and community involvement and support. The last decade has witnessed a tremendous spike in nutrition and health-related diseases in the country, especially those affecting children. In response, there have been numerous initiatives undertaken to combat the growing rates of childhood obesity targeted at changes at the school, community and individual levels. Farm to school is one such initiative, and it also has the added benefits of supporting small farmers, local agriculture, and local economies

This report tells the story of work undertaken by farm to school proponents in California to understand and address barriers to farm to school and of work within the system to promote and expand this exciting program statewide. The report also highlights tools and techniques employed to better understand and evaluate the model, as well as the most up-to-date information on farm to school programs in the state, including distribution strategies, impact evaluation data, innovative educational programs, and policy opportunities. Additionally, the report provides lessons and ideas for expanding the program to many more schools in California and will serve as a benchmark for the status of the California Farm to School Program in 2007.

Download the report.

This report compiles learnings from a decade of farm to school in California as a resource for current and future farm to school practitioners who seek information on what has worked and what has not, thus enabling the establishment of many more successful, sustainable, and viable farm to school programs in California.