By: Sonia Fernandez-Arana, MA
October is National Farm to School Month, a campaign dedicated to connecting children and communities to nutritious local foods while supporting farmers, agriculture and the economy. This year marks the 10th anniversary of National Farm to School Month, first enacted by Congress in 2010 to recognize food systems and honor farmers and those that contribute to school meal programs.
Farm to School in California
These programs provide opportunities to foster healthy eating habits by bringing locally sourced and grown foods to school cafeterias while incorporating nutrition education and modeling healthy food choices and balanced meals. Learning laboratories like school gardens and agricultural field trips pair with nutrition education to teach students the importance of good nutrition and the journey of food, including the processes involved in farm-grown foods becoming part of a nutritious school breakfast or lunch.
School meals are critical to addressing student health and well-being. Balanced nutrition throughout the day contributes to student success in and out of the classroom. Research demonstrates that school meal programs play an important role in supporting obesity prevention, overall student health and academic achievement by improving children’s diets and combatting hunger.
For over a century, Dairy Council of California has been leading farm to school efforts through the support of California dairy farmers and processors under the authority of the California Department of Food and Agriculture by bringing the original Farm to School program, Mobile Dairy Classroom, to schools across California. Mobile Dairy Classroom is an assembly that brings the farm experience to students, teaching them how milk and dairy foods get from the farm to the table and how they contribute to a healthy eating pattern. Teaching nutrition through farm to school programs engages students, celebrates cultural and ethnic heritages and explores food systems while emphasizing how nutrient-rich foods contribute to lifelong health.
Celebrating National Farm to School Month may be different for the school community this year due to distance learning, but schools, teachers, students and families can take part in the movement in the following ways:
For additional ways to celebrate National Farm to School Month, visit the National Farm to School Network.
Sonia Fernandez-Arana, MA
Sonia Fernandez-Arana, MA
Sonia is the Let's Eat Healthy Program Manager for Dairy Council of California.
Mobile Dairy Classroom partnered with Nepris, a platform that connects industry professionals with educators to bring virtual lessons to students.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact industries + families, schools are innovating how they provide meals to students.