Federal Policy Regional Impact

Northeast States Love Farm to School!

The results of the 2015 Farm to School Census are in and the NESAWG region is once again showing their love for farm to school. Approximately 60% of all districts in our region who responded to the census have farm to school activities, exceeding the national rate of participation by 18 percentage points! This amounts to nearly 8,000 schools and more than four million students participating in farm to school. In addition, nine NESAWG states rank in the top ten states with the highest percentage of school districts with Farm to School activities.

"Thanks to a strong network of schools, farms, parents, nonprofits, and public agencies, the Northeast is a leader in farm to school,” said Kaitlin Haskins from Farm to Institution New England. “The small size of many states in our region has facilitated collaboration across state borders while community support for small farms and widespread demand for fresh, healthy and local food has made it possible for farm to school initiatives to thrive.”

According to the National Farm to School Network (NFSN), the core elements of farm to school include serving local food in cafeterias; farm, garden, or nutrition-based education; and school gardens. School districts in our region spent more than $150 million on local foods, about 14% of our region's total school food expenditures. NESAWGian states also boast close to 1,500 school gardens (up from 636 in 2012) and more than 4,500 school salad bars.  And farm to school is continuing to grow in our region. Fifteen percent of Northeastern districts (366) plan to start farm to school activities in the future.

One source of support for farm to school efforts has been the USDA Farm to School Program, which provides competitive grants for farm to school initiatives. NESAWG, along with our partners at NFSN and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, are working to increase funding for this program and are calling on Congress to include the Farm to School Act in the next Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act. You can show your support for the Farm to School Act by signing onto this petition.

About the Farm to School Census
The  2010 Child Nutrition Reauthorization, formally known as the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (HHFKA) formally established the Farm to School Program within USDA to improve access to local foods in schools. In order to establish realistic goals with regard to increasing the availability of local foods in schools, in 2013, USDA conducted the first nationwide Farm to School Census (the Census). In 2015, USDA conducted a second Farm to School Census to measure progress towards reaching this goal.

To get more data from the Farm to School Census, visit the USDA’s Farm to School Census Website.

Photo Credit: USDA Food and Nutrition Service