The Wisconsin Farm to School Program encourages healthy lifestyles in children and supports local economies. In Wisconsin, comprehensive farm to school programs combine local or procurement efforts, nutrition and agricultural education, and student engagement activities such as school gardening, in order to provide students with the broadest benefits. Farm to school activities in Wisconsin have been gaining momentum since 2002, with local food served in more than 235 school districts across the state. Through the commitment of a strong network of partners — including state agencies, schools, farmers, distributors, nonprofits, parents and students — farm to school has become a vibrant movement connecting kids to healthy, local food and connecting farmers to happy, local customers.
The state of Wisconsin has been a strong supporter of farm to school. In 2009, the Legislature enacted Act 293 to promote the growth of a farm to school program, including provisions for a state advisory council and a state coordinator through the Department of Agriculture.
Goals of Wisconsin Farm to School
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 partners host diverse programs that range in scale and scope. Food, agriculture and nutrition education programs include a farmer or chef visit to the classroom, school gardens, cooking contests, 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 distributors to obtain local product, work directly with local producers in their communities, or both. Every year the reach of the programs grows: integrating more fresh and local foods into school cafeterias, educating more students, and providing more economic benefit to local farmers.