This week marks the beginning of National Farm to School Month! For the next month, schools and preschools across the country will celebrate the local food served in their cafeterias, the gardens in their schoolyards and the food and agriculture education happening in their classrooms. Some will engage with farm to school for the first time; others will enjoy the harvest from years of farm to school success.
Locally, Farmer Foodshare is involved with Farm to School efforts year-round in a variety of ways. Our POP Market program provides subsidized produce to area preschools and other organizations that are feeding children, such as Child Care Services Association. The Donation Stations at area farmers' markets also provide donations to many backpack programs. Not only Is it crucial that children receive fresh healthy foods at school, but also in the time around school. We provide produce to numerous programs that supply kids with food to take home during the summer, on school breaks, and on the weekends.
The backpack programs are great because they are serving the kids most in need! Supplementing the shelf stable foods with 1-3 fresh veggies and/or fruit every week is a great way to guarantee the kids are getting at least a few servings of fresh food in their diets and they get to eat something they've probably never tried before. We've shared our Veggie Fact Sheets with them and the participants go home and share that info with their families!
Muskie Cates from Child Care Services Association says of their partnership with Farmer Foodshare, "Many of the child care centers we serve are not only non-profits themselves but are also enrolled in the USDA Child and Adult Care Food Program, providing reimbursements for meals served to low income children. So our pricing schedule for meals must stay within a very low margin. Being able to provide fresh local produce is a great way to get a variety of high quality, nutritious foods into the diet of preschool children in Durham and Orange Counties. But depending on the product, local produce can carry a premium price. So it is great to know that we can help offset that somewhat through the use of matching funds through Farmer Foodshare. It would definitely be much easier to just order all foods through one or two purveyors, so it is definitely a good incentive to take the extra effort to work local food into our program."
Some of those amazing local programs include: Panda Packs, Fuel Up, and TABLE. If you know of a program that’s looking for fresh food to include with their program please have them contact us! To support a subsidy for one or all of these programs to get more food, simply make a note when you make a gift and we'll be sure that it gets to them. We’re sure they’d appreciate your help!