Farm to School programs come in many shapes and sizes unique to the communities that build them. After exploring the resources and existing programs on the left, contact your state Farm to School lead for additional information and assistance specific to Wisconsin:
Farm to School in Wisconsin has been gaining momentum since 2002, with local food served in more than 100 school districts across the state. Farm to school has become a vibrant movement connecting kids to healthy, local food and farmers to happy, local customers. According to a 2010 survey of 254 Wisconsin School Nutrition Directors, 88% of respondents stated interest in purchasing more local products for their meal programs. With a strong network of partners including state agencies, schools, farmers, distributors, nonprofits, parents and students, we are working to integrate fresh and local into school cafeterias and local economies.
The State of Wisconsin has been a strong supporter of farm to school. In 2009, the legislature enacted a bill to promote the growth of a Farm to School program in Wisconsin, including provisions for a state level Advisory Council and a state coordinator through the Department of Agriculture (DATCP). In 2010, the Department of Public Instruction (DPI), the Department of Health Services (DHS) and DATCP jointly issued a statewide memorandum officially sanctioning the purchase of locally grown fruits and vegetables for school meal programs.
Wisconsin Farm to School promotes healthy eating and the reduction of childhood obesity. The program also supports our State’s strong community of family farmers and diverse agricultural production. In 2011 the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Family Medicine issued an evaluation of Wisconsin’s farm to school programs, highlighting the impacts of the 10 AmeriCorps Farm to School Program sites across the state. The evaluation report shows that students in farm to school programs increase their knowledge about and consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables. The more exposure students have, the more fresh foods they eat.
Wisconsin’s Farm to School network hosts a diversity of programs that range in scale and scope. Food, agriculture and nutrition education programs include “farmer or chef in the classroom,” school gardens, county-wide healthy school meal cooking contests for youth and more. Some farm to school programs may serve one school in a rural area, while others work at a county-wide scale or beyond. Schools may work closely with their distributers to obtain local product, work directly with local producers in their communities, or both. Every year the network of programs grows.
The Wisconsin Farm to School website is a resource for current programs, tools and contact information. Please note the free and downloadable Wisconsin Farm to School Toolkits for Nutrition Directors and Producers, listed in the Resources section.