Wisconsin Supporting Partners
Built on fifteen years of community action, Farm to School and Farm to Early Care and Education is blossoming all over Wisconsin. The state boasts over 390 farm to school and farm to ECE projects, serving over 500,000 youth each year. WI F2S is supported by robust local and statewide networks that provide resources and networking to keep building connections between Wisconsin’s farmers, food system, and young eaters.
In 2009, Act 293 formally created the Wisconsin Farm to School Program within the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, formalizing the years of grassroots farm to school activity in the state. The goals of Wisconsin Farm to School (WI F2S) are to:
1. Strengthen local economies by expanding markets for Wisconsin agricultural producers and food entrepreneurs.
2. Promote children’s health by providing fresh and minimally processed foods in schools and supporting the development of healthy eating habits.
3. Increase children’s and communities’ knowledge about agriculture, food, nutrition and the environment.
Wisconsin Farm to School works towards these goals with the help of a statewide structure that supports the development and dissemination of resources, provides networking opportunities, and promotes an advocacy agenda. The formal Wisconsin F2S Advisory Council, revived in 2015, includes sixteen members selected from organizations as indicated by legislation, and at large, representing schools, agriculture, education, public health and more. The Advisory Council reflects on the challenges and opportunities identified by the Leadership Group to recommend a strategic direction for Wisconsin Farm to School programming and policy. The Wisconsin F2S Steering Committee of four statewide partner organizations supports alignment across state partners and agencies. These partners work collaboratively to develop new resources, offer farm to school events and trainings, provided direct technical assistance statewide, and facilitate the F2S Leadership Group. The Wisconsin F2S Leadership Grou p of over fifty F2S practitioners throughout the state convene for monthly calls and at least one annual in-person meeting. These networking opportunities offer a space for Leadership Group participants to share updates about local farm to school and farm to ECE activities and to identify common challenges and opportunities to bring to the Advisory Council for consideration.
Farm to school and farm to ECE thrives in Wisconsin because of the various opportunities to engage in farm to school trainings, events, networks, working groups, and communities of practice. The Wisconsin School Garden Network provides an excellent resources for those who want to connect more deeply with garden-based education in the state. The statewide Wisconsin Farm to School AmeriCorps program provides capacity for nutrition education and local food sourcing at the community level, while also providing food-system work experience for service members. Communities of practice and working groups in farm to hospital and farm to ECE create opportunities to transfer lessons learned from farm to school across other institutions. Finally, Wisconsin participates in National Farm to School Month each October, with a focus on celebrating the Great Lakes Great Apple Crunch. Last year over 200,000 students, children, educators, school staff and more crunched on Wisconsin-grown apples to show their support for Wisconsin Farm to School!
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