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Results from the 2009 Michigan Farm to School Survey: Participation Grows from 2004

Center for Regional Food Systems, Department of Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resource Studies, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI | 08-Apr-2018

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Abstract
Objective:
This study investigated changes in Michigan school food service directors’ farm to school (FTS) participation levels and perspectives since a 2004 survey and factors that would facilitate FTS expansion.

Design:
Electronic survey census of all Michigan school food service directors.
Setting:
Michigan kindergarten-12th grade schools.
Participants:
Food service directors of National School Lunch programs in Michigan.
Variables Measured:
Survey respondents were asked about local food purchasing behaviors, interests, motivations, concerns, and barriers.
Analysis:
Data were analyzed through descriptive statistics. Wilcoxon signed rank tests were calculated to compare 2004 and 2009 results.
Results:
Participation in FTS was more than 3 times higher (41.5%) than in 2004 (10.6%), and the vast majority of school districts (77.0%) had taken at least 1 step to connect students with local food. Budget and cost issues were ranked higher as barriers to FTS than in 2004, but the desire to help Michigan farms had also substantially increased. Fresh and whole produce items were generally preferred for local procurement over frozen or canned items.
Conclusions and Implications:
Education to reverse perceived limits of procurement regulations, food safety assurances, and strategies to mitigate tight school food budgets are needed to encourage FTS expansion.

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