07.12.11

New USDA Farm to School Report Cites Best Practices Found Across The Nation

Survey Included Visit To Burlington School District

(TUESDAY, July 12) -- A report released Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture offers useful “how-to” lessons for schools interested in joining the burgeoning Farm to School movement. 

This report cites lessons learned from field visits to 15 school districts across the country, including the Burlington School District, and identifies the survey team’s best-practice findings.  The USDA report notes that the Burlington School District is one of only two of the 15 visited that has a Farm to School coordinator to organize the logistics of the district’s Farm To School activities.

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) praised the survey effort and said, “Connecting farms and schools makes sense in so many ways, from economics to nutrition.  I am pleased and proud that USDA came to Vermont to learn from Burlington’s experiences with Farm to School.  This report is a distillation of strategies and logistics that are working best in Burlington and in other leading Farm to School communities.  It is another solid step forward in supporting local and regional food systems and in helping schools deal with the challenges and enjoy the many benefits of the Farm to School reforms.”

Farm to School efforts are intended both to improve childhood nutrition and to create new economic opportunities by forging local and regional food links to school nutrition programs, keeping farm dollars at home in the rural communities that need them.

Leahy and other advocates for the Farm to School movement note that fresher foods and wider lunchroom offerings go hand in hand with nutrition improvements in schools, where 32 million children have meals every school day.  One of every three American children is risk for preventable diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and heart disease due to overweight and obesity. 

Leahy, long a leader on child nutrition and a champion of Farm to School efforts on the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, included further Farm to School initiatives and dedicated funding in the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, updating the charter for federal child nutrition programs, which President Obama signed into law last December.

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