Schools, organizations, and communities in Utah are embracing Farm to School programs and initiatives. Here are just a few notable ones:
Utah State Office of Education
(USOE) held the first Utah Farm to School Conference in June of 2015 made possible by a USDA Farm to School training and events grant. It was exciting to see relationships form between school nutrition staff, farmers and community partners during this two day event featuring farm food safety, local procurement, culinary skills, and local food budgeting strategies, as well as a networking dinner and farm tour. Mini sub-grants were awarded to nine schools across the state for green houses, garden equipment, farm tours, and fruit and vegetable sectionizers to support the momentum created by the tools, training and inspiring conversations of the event.
Schools and Districts are leading the charge in the farm to school movement. Jordan and Provo school district work with local farmers to source local produce for school meals. Jordan School District Child Nutrition creates educational material and hosts nutrition activities so their students can connect with where their food comes from and develop healthy eating habits from a young age.
Provo School District Child Nutrition
has worked with local growers, all less than 20 miles away, serving a variety of freshly picked apples, peaches, and raspberries direct from the grower to their Child Nutrition Program kitchens. They have a Utah's Own Farm Fair each year at selected school showcasing Utah beekeepers, growers, cheese makers and others bring samples of their Utah farm items, and educate the students on their processes. Students in Ogden school district are enjoying fresh Utah peaches, apples, pears and hopefully corn this year.
More rural districts, like Grand (Moab area), have also started reaching out to farms in their communities. Our charter schools in Utah have the unique farm to school advantage of being smaller operations that can benefit from working with the small to medium size farms in their areas.
Salt Lake County Farm to School (SLCO) Farm to School
collaborates with state agencies such as the Health Department, USOE, various school districts, and local non-profit organizations to create effective Farm to School programs. SLCO Farm to School programs and initiatives aim to create local and sustainable food distribution channels that provides fresh, healthy and better-tasting food choices to students leading to reduced obesity rates, energy use, food miles and environmental impacts. The two key goals of their farm to school programs are:
- Improve food distribution channels employed by school districts to include nutrient-rich, locally sourced food.
- Provide experiential nutrition education to children in various settings such as classrooms and summer school and after school programs at recreation centers to educate students on making healthier food choices.
Eat Awesome Things at School
(EATS) is a non-profit in Park City, Utah that is dedicated to working with the Park City school district and their community to improve the school food program so that it offers more healthy and delicious foods, using education as the foundation for change.
School gardens and youth gardening programs
are thriving in Utah. Wasatch Community Gardens’ award-winning Youth Programs connect urban youth in the Salt Lake Valley with fresh, local food and community through hands-on, outdoor learning. Their Youth Programs serve more than 1,500 urban youth each year through their City Roots Youth Gardening Classes, City Sprouts Summer Camps, Growing Greens Field Trips, and the Junior Farmers program.
Real Food Rising
, a program of Utahns Against Hunger, is a job training and farming program that empowers youth with the skills they need to thrive while increasing access to healthy food in Salt Lake. On their 1.25 acre urban farm, teens ages 14-17 earn a stipend while learning how to grow and eat fresh produce, building job readiness skills, practicing leadership and communication skills, building positive relationships and experiencing first-hand the power of community service. Youth work with adult staff and volunteers to grow thousands of pounds of fresh produce for the community; at least 70 % of the produce grown is donated to hunger relief organizations and the rest is sold at neighborhood farm stands to local restaurants.