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National Farm to School Network

Membership: 12,000+

Organization Focus: Information, advocacy and networking hub to bring local food sourcing and food and agriculture education into schools and preschools

Founded in: 2007

Program Focus: Ensuring local food access and farm education

Across America, millions of children are learning about the benefits of healthy food first-hand in their school gardens and cafeterias, thanks in large part to the efforts of the National Farm to School Network.

Today, 23.5 million students in more than 40,000 schools are engaged with farm to school activities, and schools across the country spend $385 million on local food. The National Farm to School Network promotes farm to school initiatives which provide a comprehensive effort toward education and nutrition:

1. Bringing locally and regionally grown foods into school meals

2. Establishing school gardens to offer hands-on experience in growing their own food

3. Delivering educational programs focused on nutrition and agriculture

The benefits are clear: improved nutrition, which can help combat the nation’s obesity epidemic; education to create a foundation for a lifetime of healthy food choices; and support for local agricultural producers which can help lead to stronger rural communities.

“We’re working to improve the health of our children through better nutrition, including increased emphasis on local and regional foods,” says Anupama Joshi, executive director for the National Farm to School Network. “It’s equally important that we help local agriculture thrive and ensure that producers receive a fair price for the food they raise so they can stay on their farms.”

We’re working to improve the health of our children through better nutrition, including increased emphasis on local and regional foods.
National Farm to School Network

One of the National Farm to School Network’s primary roles is to serve as an information hub for farm to school best practices and research. The network includes regional and state leads in all 50 states and D.C. who help connect schools to local farmers and producers, as well as thousands of farm to school supporters.

“Our structure helps information flow in all directions, so important lessons learned in one area can be shared everywhere in the country,” says Anupama. “It also ensures that any individual, community or school looking for education, guidance or technical assistance in implementing farm to school has someone they can contact for support.”

Farm Credit’s National Contributions Program is funding a one-year project to explore possible alignment between the two national networks to further the goals of strengthening local food systems and educating consumers about the importance of our agricultural producers. This research effort will deliver recommendations for communications materials, information resources and training programs that will help further NFCF’s important mission, and create opportunities for local collaboration with Farm Credit organizations.

“Our work in the classroom is having results,” says Anupama. “Students are learning the story behind the food they’re being served, in some cases even growing it themselves. They’re increasing their consumption of fruits and vegetables, and they’re even learning to enjoy it!”