National Farm to School Network is proud to announce that we have been selected as one of the recipients of this year’s Patrick Leahy Farm to School Grant Program. We are incredibly excited to launch our Farm to School Coordinators Project with this support from the USDA and the Life Time Foundation.
Our goal with this project is to scale up farm to school implementation nationwide by establishing more dedicated farm to school coordinator positions at school districts. We will be providing unique professional development opportunities, supporting school communities, and developing research-driven resources to help make the case for the farm to school coordinator position. As a result, we envision increased ownership and capacity for farm to school programs at the community level.
Why Farm to School Coordinators?
Farm to school requires coordination and relationship-building across many people, including farmers, food service staff, educators, families and students. Implementing farm to school also often comes with certain challenges, including navigating regulations, finding funding sources, and connecting with decision makers at the school district. A dedicated farm to school coordinator role at a school district can address many of these challenges, ultimately forging a stronger connection between the school district and local farms. In addition to increasing the amount of local foods available on school menus, farm to school coordinators may also help increase hands-on nutrition and food education in the classroom or school garden. This can create a ripple effect that not only benefits students but also the entire school and broader community.
To accomplish our goal of scaling up farm to school implementation nationwide, our work will include the following components:
- A Community of Practice for current Farm to School Coordinators
- A Working Group for school districts that don’t currently have a Farm to School Coordinator but desire to implement the position
- Develop research-driven resources that can be used to advocate for Farm to School Coordinator positions and set best practices for these positions nationwide.
We look forward to collaborating with Colorado State University for this project, who will be conducting research and developing material that will be shared with our network partners and the general public. We hope that these resources will help all communities advocate for the creation of Farm to School Coordinator positions.
How to Get Involved
National Farm to School Network has begun recruitment for our Community of Practice and Working Group! If you are interested in either opportunity, we encourage you to learn more and apply by October 13, 2023. Preference for both opportunities will be given to applicants/school districts that work with/represent a higher percentage of students participating in free or reduced-price lunches from traditionally underserved communities. Visit this page to learn more about each opportunity and apply!
National Farm to School Network has done previous work to institutionalize farm to school at the federal and state agency levels. We’re excited to now embark on this new journey to expand farm to school at the community level within schools. By convening a national community of practice and working group, we hope to nurture innovation, connection, and knowledge to bring us closer to our vision where farm to school programs are an essential part of resilient and just food systems.