Welcome to the Farm to School Resource Page for SAU #7! On this page, you will find updates about current Farm to School initiatives throughout the district, opportunities to get involved, and resources to help students, teachers, parents, and other community members engage with Farm to School.
What is Farm to School?
Farm to School is a national program that seeks to promote in schools increased awareness about where food comes from, knowledge of the local agricultural economy, and consumption of fresh, local foods. Through UNH and the Beacon Community Project, our community was selected as the recipient of grant monies to fund a part time position for a Farm to School Program Coordinator. The program coordinator works with teachers, students, administration, and the greater community to encourage thoughtful eating and appreciation for agriculture in our area.
See the video below for information about the impacts that the Farm to School Program can have in our community.
Economy, Community, Nutrition, Value, and Autonomy
Farm to School is about more than just farms and schools. It is really a program that seeks to address issues in the entire community though the vehicle of local food and student engagement. But, Farm to School is a project that every member of our community can get behind and support. Below, find some of the highlighted reasons that local food benefits everyone.
- Economy- Money spent locally helps community businesses expand and create more jobs, generates more tax revenue for the town, and increases economic opportunities for young people beginning their working lives. According to the 2014 USDA Child Nutrition Tables, if every New Hampshire resident spent $5 per week on local food, overs $338 million would be added to the state's economy.
- Community- Buying local food isn't just about building a vibrant local economy. It's also about making connections with your neighbors and supporting one another. Farm stands, farmers markets, and other settings in which people come together to share food are spaces to foster important relationships and mutual senses of responsibility. Raising children engaged in the agricultural labor of their neighbors builds a stronger community of neighbors more invested in each other's well-being.
- Nutrition- Local food is more likely to be fresher, having traveled less distance and having been allowed to reach maturity on the plant. Fresher produce contains more nutrients that can be lost in long shipping times from field to store or when produce is picked before it reaches it's natural maturity. Students have also been shown to be more likely to eat fresh fruits and veggies when they themselves have been engaged in the growing. Farm to School promotes student nutrition and wellness by offering them tastier, fresher foods that they can be proud of having had a hand in growing and are excited to eat.
- Value- In purchasing local foods, you are often purchasing a higher quality product. A consumer that knows the farmer producing their food is more likely to value that food and a farmer who delivers directly to consumers will take more responsibility for their crop, producing better, fresher, higher quality food. As noted above, students especially place higher value on food that they've had a hand in producing.
- Autonomy- Local food that is fresher and better for us reduces our dependence on distant producers and distributors. Buying local helps to support your family, your neighbors, and your local economy first and foremost. Locally produced food ensures genetic diversity and decreases risks of large food-borne illness outbreaks, both increasing the resiliency of our food supply.
For more on the benefits of buying local, see this article by UVM Agricultural Extension Vegetable and Berry Specialist, Vern Grubinger. Ten Reasons to Buy Local Food.