Farm To School - History


The National Farm to School Network sprouted in 1996-1997 from the desire to support community-based food systems, strengthen family farms, and improve student health by reducing childhood obesity. In 2004 the National Farm to School Program was officially authorized, and included 400 programs in 22 states. Additionally, the 2011 White House Task Force Report on Childhood Obesity recognized Farm to School as a strategy for obesity prevention.

Farm to School Timeline:

  • 1996/1997 - Birth of farm to school through pilot projects in California (Santa Monica-Malibu USD and The Edible Schoolyard, Berkeley) and Florida (New North Florida Marketing Cooperative).
  • 2000 - USDA IFAFS supports the establishment of the National Farm to School Program enabling program development, research, and policy.
  • 2001 - USDA AMS began organizing farm to school workshops around the country as part of the Small Farms/School Meals Initiative. Groundbreaking meetings brought farmers and food service together for the first time to discuss how to implement farm to school programs in Kentucky, Iowa and Oregon. Estimated 6 pilot programs operational.*
  • 2002 - 1st regional Farm to Cafeteria conference organized at Cornell University (with support from University of New Hampshire). 1st Farm to Cafeteria Conference in October in Seattle, Washington with approximately 200 attendees.
  • 2004 - National Farm to School Program authorized in statute in the 2004 Child Nutrition Reauthorization. (While the program has been established, it has not yet received any federal funding.) National survey of farm to school projects with an estimated 400 programs in 22 states.* Launch of Informal discussions about a National Farm to School Network begin.
  • 2005 - Planning grant received for National Farm to School Network from Kellogg. 2nd Farm to Cafeteria Conference in June in Gambier, Ohio with over 350 attendees.
  • 2005/2006 - Regional meetings held across the country to gather feedback on need for a national network and setting priorities; national survey estimates 1000+ programs.*
  • 2007 - 3rd Farm to Cafeteria Conference in March in Baltimore, Maryland with over 400 attendees. Kellogg grant approved in May creating the National Farm to School Network: Regional Lead Agencies in eight regions established; national staff hired; Network plans over three years developed in September.
  • 2008 - Partners of the National Network, Program Strategy Advisory Committee and Regional Steering Committees established to guide national efforts. Farm Bill legislation successfully passed allowing food service directors to preference local products. National Network represented at all regional USDA briefings on the Child Nutrition Reauthorization. Developed priorities for the CNR.
  • 2009 - Congressional briefings held on farm to school in February in DC with over 100 attendees. Estimated over 2000 programs in 40 states.*
  • Estimates by the National Farm to School Network

Read more about this topic:  Farm To School

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