The national Farm to School program is based on the premise that students will choose healthier foods, including more fruits and vegetables, if products are fresh, locally grown and picked at the peak of their flavor and if those choices are reinforced with educational activities.
Athens Land Trust is using a USDA Farm to School grant to achieve the goals of Connecting students to fresh, local food through education and community partnerships, and Engaging students in growing food and participating in agricultural career activities.
Why Farm to School?
- Because well-nourished children do better in school. A report that was recently released by Centers for Disease Control states, “The health of students is linked to their academic success.”
- 1 out of every 4 Georgia 3rd graders is obese.
- Georgia is the 6th largest producer of vegetables in the U.S., but ranks 2nd in childhood obesity.
- When schools purchase food from local farmers, it is fresher, tastier and more nutritious.
- Most food items in the cafeteria travel 1,500 miles from farm to plate.
- Produce that is harvested, delivered and/or purchased on the same day has far fewer food safety and contamination risks.
- Research directly correlates school gardens and taste tests to greater consumption of fresh produce and improved eating habits.
- When a student is involved in the sowing, tending, harvest or preparation of a vegetable, they are more likely to try it and to like it.
- For every $1 Clarke County Schools put in a local farmer’s pocket, $3-5 are stimulated and circulated in the local community.
- Farm to School supports family and community engagement, increases positive public relations and provides state and national recognition.
What can Farm to School provide in your school?
- Volunteer support for school gardens with hands-on student educational activities that meet Common Core requirements
- Teacher trainings on integrating the gardens into instructional activities
- Taste tests: special events that highlight seasonal produce and a local farmer
FoodCorps Joins ALT
Since 2014, FoodCorps Service Members have been serving with ALT’s Farm to School Program and the Clarke County School District in order to:
- Teach children about what healthy food is and where is comes from
- Build and tend school gardens where kids can taste the real food they’ve grown
- Partner with farms to put high-quality food into public school cafeterias
ALT’s two FoodCorps Service Members will be focusing their efforts on middle and high schools within the district.