We Are Rural: Food and Community

Local food is a hot topic, and your support helped farmers and buyers “eat local” in Nebraska. The Farm to School Program brings local, healthy food into school cafeterias. It connects children with their food and its source.

In 2013, our first statewide Farm to School Summit brought enthusiastic farmers and food service directors together. It was a big success with several deals to provide local foods taking place right there. Marketing students at the University of Nebraska-Kearney created a social media campaign for our Farm to School program.

The excitement continued when a group of middle school students spoke at the National Farm to School Conference in Omaha. These 7th and 8th grade girls from Bellevue, Nebraska, decided they wanted to change their school meals. Now, with a little help from us, farmers are interested in helping them eat fresh, local food at school. We’re excited that two new grants will help expand these efforts in 2014.

Your support leads to real-world changes. That’s so with the farmers market you helped start in South Sioux City. After a 2nd successful year, management transitioned to the City. The Santee Nation and Omaha Tribe are becoming more informed gardeners with classes and instruction. Expanded community gardens and farmers markets will result.

With your help, Latino gardeners and city officials broke ground on a new community garden in Columbus. Gardeners are attending workshops on how to make their gardens more successful and productive.

Communities in central Nebraska are learning how to manage flower and vegetable gardens for pollinator habitats. This increases garden and farm production, as well as attracts tourists.

Annual Report Food & Community 2013 Highlights:

  • Statewide Farm to School Summit brought enthusiastic farmers and food service directors together.
  • New gardeners in Columbus eagerly await spring to start planting their community garden.
  • Provided information and training to farmers, food service directors, and community members to learn more about the business and food safety aspects of local food sales.

You'll find the Center's full 2013 Annual Report here (pdf).

Feature photo: Young gardeners show off their new garden gloves, ready to dig in! Community gardens establish roots where none have grown for years, and school children can enjoy local, healthy foods at lunch. You are helping to bring lasting change to small towns! Photo by Julene Kay