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Perspective: Marion Kalb on Farm to School

By WorldLink Staff | October 3, 2011 | Leave a Comment

October is National Farm to School Month, a time to celebrate healthy school lunches, as well as connections between schools and local farmers. In this new Nourish Perspective, Farm to School Network co-founder Marion Kalb describes how school meal programs can support communities and connect students with the story of their food.

For more than 25 years, Marion Kalb has worked on food and farming issues, with an emphasis on state and federal policy. She currently directs the federal Communities Putting Prevention to Work initiative for the Community Food Security Coalition.

For more perspectives, see Michael Pollan and Nadine Burke on School Lunch. Stay tuned this month for more on creating a better school food system.

How does Farm to School benefit both the schools and communities?

Marion Kalb: The number of Farm to School programs has exploded across the country. From just a handful in late nineties, there are now over 2,300 programs in all 50 states.

The major aims of the Farm to School approach are healthy children, healthy farms, and healthy communities. These programs are based on the premise that students will choose healthier foods if products are fresh, locally grown, and picked at the peak of their flavor, and if those choices are reinforced with educational activities.

Farm to School benefits students by introducing them to farm-fresh fruits and vegetables. It benefits communities by providing an additional marketing avenue for farmers and keeping food dollars local.

How does a school or district build relationships with farmers in its region?

Marion Kalb: In starting a Farm to School program, there are a number of ways that schools can build those relationships. By connecting with agricultural organizations, schools can arrange to meet local growers, find out what’s in season, and what products might work with their menus. Visiting local farmers markets and speaking with both the market manager and the farmers can also be very informative. Many farmers markets, as well as state or county agriculture offices, can provide schools with lists of farmers in the region.

Distributors may also have connections with local growers. Meetings with food service staff and growers, where growers bring samples of their products, can be very successful in making the connections necessary for schools to purchase local fruits and vegetables.

CONTINUES IN PERSPECTIVES >

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