Every October, National Farm to School Month brings awareness to the importance of filling lunch trays with healthy, nutritious food in school cafeterias across the US. The initiative also highlights food education and envisions a system in which everyone can access nourishing food, which is especially important for growing children.
To make this vision a reality, we must acknowledge the value of the people at each step of the food value chain, and understand their vital role in this ecosystem. The focus of this year’s National Farm to School Month underscores the essential contributors across the different parts of the food system, such as “the farmers and farmworkers who grew the food, to the people who processed and delivered the food, to the school food service staff who purchased and prepared the food.”
The nonprofit, Farm to School urges parents and teachers to explore their national calendar of events and raise visibility to this issue by using hashtags #F2SMonth and #farmtoschool on social media. They also have free online resources available for planning celebrations in your community and drawing inspiration from examples of farm-to-school success stories.
Here are four ways you can advocate for healthier lunches, food education, and farm-to-table meals at your child’s school.
Build Partnerships and Attend School Board Meetings
Research and identify other schools that have implemented the Farm-to-Table program. Then connect with a director that can help you navigate the steps involved in implementing the program at your own school. Use your findings to create a simple proposal to present to school board administrators, teachers, and cafeteria managers. Enlist other parents and schedule a meet-up to brainstorm ways to amplify your message at board meetings, school events, extracurricular activities, and on social media.
Partner with Local Community Gardens or Farmer’s Markets.
Research and contact local farmers’ markets, community gardens, agriculture coalitions, farmer cooperatives, and farmer bureaus to see what they can offer. Compile a detailed list of prospective partners and incorporate the information into your proposal. See if a member would be willing to attend a school meeting with you.
Create fundraisers such as community meals, cookbooks, walk-a-thons, and bake sales to help defray the cost of a farm-to-school program. These events will not only raise money and awareness but are a great way to bring the community together for a good cause.
Make a list of creative ways to bring food education to your child’s school. Here are some examples:
- Create a school-wide Youtube cooking series. Ask other parents to film videos with their kids cooking family favorite recipes. Get your child’s teachers on board by asking them to record a video of their own (this is sure to pique children’s interest!), play these videos, and lead a discussion on eating fresh foods.
- Ask the PTA and school administrators about starting a food education club. According to kidshealth.org, when students learn where their food comes from and are exposed to a variety of fresh produce, they discover that healthy food can be tasty and satisfying.
- Invite a local chef or horticulturist to speak to the children about growing their own fruits and vegetables.
- Attend school board meetings and become a vocal advocate for the importance of children’s access to nutritious meals.
- Speak to your child’s homeroom or science teacher about planting a school garden.
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