To Each Their Own: Two Avenues for Farm to School

The Farm to School Program is all about making connections to bring fresh, locally-raised food into schools. The driving interest may come from the school or from the community. Either way, the goal is the same. Connect farmers and specialty crop growers with schools to offer students a healthier diet.

In Nebraska, ideas from Vermont FEED are helping Farm to School reach new rural schools and communities. Vermont’s 3Cs – Cafeteria, Classroom, and Community – offers an adaptable model that can work from the inside out (school to community) or the outside in (community to school).

For example, Aurora Public Schools chose an inside-out approach. When Food Service Director Denise Bone and Nutrition Accountant Linda Anderson heard about the Farm to School program, they immediately jumped on board. They wanted to bring local food to their students and spread the idea throughout their community.
Linda said, “Our town supports new ideas that move our community in new directions.” Not afraid to try new things, Bone and Anderson sat down to plan how to integrate local healthy food into their cafeteria. It’s also a way to teach students about the nutritious benefits and connections to their food.
They plan to incorporate local food posters, local food day in the cafeteria, taste testings, contests, nutrition curriculum, school newsletter articles, school administration, newspaper articles, local graphic artist, local growers, and more.

They all play a part in a program that will be rich with local support. Starting inside with school movers and shakers and then educating and involving the entire community will ensure that Farm to School enjoys a long tenure.

The town of Scribner is taking the outside-in approach – starting with community interest and approaching the school with the idea. After attending the Center’s 2014 Farm to School Summit, three community members decided this program was a must for their PreK12 school of Scribner-Snyder.

Deb Eggleston, Scribner Economic Development Coordinator; Lynn Schnoor, school board member; and Angel Robinson, beginning local grower put their heads together to make a plan. Like Aurora, the town of Scribner is very open to new, progressive ideas.

The trio met with our staff. We brainstormed ideas on reaching out to the school and ensuring them there would be enough local growers to support the school district.

The end result? Each school will design a Farm to School program that best fits their school culture, environment, and community. Whether it’s all encompassing or just serving the best food available, that’s why this program is ideal. To each their own!

This article was written by Caryl Guisinger, our former Farm to School Fellow. Thanks Caryl!