Close

What is Farm to School?

Farm to School is a nationwide movement that connects schools and local farms to serve healthy meals in school cafeterias, improve student nutrition and farm or gardening educational opportunities. Currently there are farm to school programs in all 50 states. See programs from around the country here.

Curriculum is redesigned to focus the student’s attention on gardening, food, and nutrition.The Georgia Organics Farm to School Program is centered around the 4 Cs: Classroom, Cafeteria, Culinary, and Community. These principles are the building blocks for a sustainable farm to school program that features local produce in the cafeteria, as well as thoughtful curriculum connections and community support.

What is Farm to Preschool?

Farm to Preschool encompasses any pre-kindergarten program that serves children ages 0-6 and which includes some type of local food education or purchasing. Read more about Farm to Preschool here.

Who is involved in Farm to School programs?

The most successful Farm to School programs engage the talents and expertise of all school stakeholders, including school nutrition staff, teachers, administrators, students, parents, and community members.

How do Farm to School programs contribute to children’s health?

Students involved in comprehensive Farm to School programs choose more fruits and vegetables in the cafeteria, and consume more fruits and vegetables through farm to school meals ( +.99 – 1.3 servings/day) and at home. Additionally, students exhibit an interest in trying new foods and healthier options.

Farm to School programs also typically use hands-on experiential learning, which is more effective at improving eating habits than traditional, knowledge based programs (e.g., memorizing the food guide pyramid.)

The benefits of farm to school extend beyond child health into economics, community health, and benefiting local farmers. Explore the National Farm to School Network’s Benefits of Farm to School fact sheet for more evidence based information.

Is local produce better than produce grown elsewhere?

Locally grown produce intended for a nearby consumer is more likely to be harvested at peak ripeness and brought to the consumer in the shortest time possible. The produce is often of the highest quality–attractive to the eye, with pleasant odor, flavor, texture and feel– and if handled properly, with high nutritive value. Students are more likely to consume fresh fruits and vegetables when they are of high quality.

Locally grown produce also supports Georgia’s economy. A recent UGA study found that if Georgia families spent $10 a week on local food, it would generate almost 2 billion dollars for our local economy. Since the Georgia Department of Education is the state’s largest food service provider, imagine the impact if Georgia schools spent 5% on local food.

Read more about the benefits of local food here.

How do I get the most up-to-date information on Farm to School in Georgia?

Sign up for the eBite, our monthly Farm to School e-newsletter, here.

What services and programs does the Georgia Organics Farm to School program offer?

  • Provides train-the -trainer workshops to teachers, parents, and school cafeteria staff:
    • Teachers: We focus on providing comprehensive workshops for K-5 teachers in Golden Radish Award districts with easy to replicate lessons that connect food, farms, and nutrition to standards in science, math, literature, and social studies, as well as hands-on food activities that students love.   If you are interested in a training and/or are not sure whether you are in a Golden Radish Award district, contact abbie@georgiaorganics.org.
    • Parents: Opportunities for parents to learn about farm to school, how to be effective advocates, and conduct hands-on  food activities with kids are available. Contact abbie@georgiaorganics.org for scheduling and pricing.
    • School nutrition: We are focused on providing comprehensive workshops for school nutrition professionals in Golden Radish Award districts on knife skills, production, efficient preparation of local produce, cafeteria taste tests, and presentation.  If you are interested in a training and/or are not sure whether you are in a Golden Radish Award district, contact abbie@georgiaorganics.org.
  • Assists in coordinating the Georgia Farm to School & Preschool Summit. Read more about this yearly event here.
  • Coordinates Farm to School sessions for the Georgia Organics Annual Conference.
  • Hosts networking and educational opportunities for farmers, nutrition directors and distributors.
  • Provides you with the most up-to-date farm to school information, events and grants via our eBite newsletter and website.

CIMG3050-smallerHow can teachers learn more about how to incorporate Farm to School into their classroom?

Georgia Organics offers opportunities for teachers. At least once a semester, we offer a full-day, hands-on Farm to School Workshop for Educators.

Contact abbie@georgiaorganics.org for more information on our next workshop.  We can also schedule workshops for specific districts or regions if you have 12-20 teachers interested.

In the meantime, check out this sample Farm to School curriculum to see how many ways you can connect Georgia standards to farm to school. Also here is curriculum for teaching organic growing methods. Go here to see even more teacher resources.

The annual Georgia Farm to School Summit is also a great opportunity to learn about programs, lessons, school gardens, and local food procurement.

How do I start an edible school garden?

Go here to learn more about starting and sustaining an edible school garden.

Do Farm to School programs have to be organic?

Not necessarily. Currently, we are exploring how to get more Georgia produce served in Georgia schools.  However, Georgia Organics does strongly promote the growth and consumption of organic foods for both environmental and personal health reasons. Read more about the benefits of organic food here.

What is the cost of school lunch?

Schools usually have about $2 per child to produce lunch, which includes food and all overhead (labor, infrastructure, etc). Many school districts require that school cafeterias operate as a business, meaning that they do not benefit from the local tax dollars that other sectors of the school environment does.  For a more detailed overview of the cost of school lunch and food regulations, see this report created by School Food Focus.

Is Farm to School expensive?

Schools that offer Farm to School meals have observed an increase of 3-16% participation rates, helping to counteract extra costs of fresh, local produce. Often, produce can be cheaper when purchased in season, and is often tastier and more attractive, and thus sells better. Finally, investing in our children’s health now is critical. Georgia spent nearly 2 billion on obesity related health care last year, and over a third of Georgian’s children are currently considered obese. Check out our school nutrition staff page for more information.

What kinds of curriculum does Georgia Organics offer?

Georgia Organics has a high school curriculum for Organic Gardening that you can download and tailor to fit your classroom. We also have a sample Farm to School curriculum for K-5th grade teachers to demonstrate ways to connect farm to school to a variety of disciplines and standards.

We have found so many great lessons that it would be very difficult to condense it into just one curriculum for Georgia teachers. See a list of our favorite educator curriculum and children’s gardening books.

Here are some other examples of how teachers have linked farm to school into their own standards in Decatur, GA and in Vermont.

If you are a teacher in a Golden Radish Award district that would to learn more, consider attending one of our upcoming farm to school workshops. Contact abbie@georgiaorganics.org to find out more.

What are other states doing?

Check out the National Farm to School Network to see how other states are implementing Farm to School.