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Farm-to-School Programs Make Local Food a Priority

Farm-to-School Programs Make Local Food a Priority

By Jason Knapfel for DietsInReview.com

With ever increasing numbers of obese Americans, private citizens and the public sector need to find creative ways to assist in staving off a looming health disaster. Of course, the first line of defense is to teach people about the basics of healthy eating and exercise, but there are things we can do on a higher level to make healthier food accessible to our citizens.

Farm-to-Institution programs are funded with the help of government grants. These partnerships between local farmers, schools and businesses are showing great promise in making a big difference in how we eat, particularly with young people.

A national grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides support for various institutions in promoting the use of locally grown produce in their cafeterias. It’s something that all 50 states are now taking part in, with about 2,350 Farm-to-School programs nationwide.

Our schools are some of the more important places this initiative is being promoted, in institutions of higher learning right down to grade school. We all know about the rising problem of childhood obesity, so any initiative that gets kids to eat better foods and learn more about those foods is a worthwhile cause.

October happens to be National Farm-to-School Month, which was enacted by Congress last year. Kids can eat fresh produce from local farmers and get a visit from those farmers and ask any questions they may have.

There are many reasons we should promote strong relationships between farms and their local communities. Here are but a few:

  • Family farms have been on sharp decline for many years, with only two percent of the entire population involved in farming. Citizens who eat food grown locally are supporting their local economy, including this vital but struggling sector. Farmers can secure contracts for their produce and diversify their client base.
  • Farm-to-Institution programs have a positive effect on the environment, one reason being that less fuel is expended to transport food to your area.
  • Food grown locally is not only fresher, but more nutrient dense than food that needs to be transported long distances.
  • Fresher food usually means tastier food! When people realize that healthy food can actually taste good, it makes it easier for people to commit to long-term healthy eating habits.

Research from the National Farm-to-School Network found that these programs help school cafeterias increase revenues when they offer more fresh fruits and vegetables, which comes not just from students, but faculty as well.

Read more: Do Good, Family, Health, Healthy Schools, Nature, , , ,

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36 comments

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9:43AM PDT on Oct 28, 2011

Good News! Good News! :D :D :D :D :D

11:39AM PDT on Oct 26, 2011

Good to hear.

10:07AM PDT on Oct 20, 2011

Nice! Thanks

10:05AM PDT on Oct 20, 2011

Nice! Thank you

8:44PM PDT on Oct 14, 2011

I started a community garden project this year and am just now eating my wonderful pesticide free and organic produce. Growing your own food is so empowering. Also reducing my carbon footprint by growing my own food.

5:39PM PDT on Oct 14, 2011

This has the potential to be a great program!

11:25AM PDT on Oct 13, 2011

Such a terrific idea. Thanks for posting.

8:18AM PDT on Oct 13, 2011

We have a "farm to school" program like this in Oregon. The Cascade Pacific RC & D worked with a group called "Food Hub" to set up a fresh food distribution system in the Eugene area.

4:03AM PDT on Oct 13, 2011

Teach children how to grow food and they will eat it.

3:24AM PDT on Oct 13, 2011

noted

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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