October is Farm to School Month, declared by U.S. Congress in 2010 to celebrate a national movement with big local impacts. Vermont schools serve around 14 million school meals each year, and Farm to School programs are making sure they do a lot more than just fill bellies. Vermont schools contribute more than $1.4 million each year to the Vermont economy by purchasing local foods, and expansion of school nutrition programs have helped reduce childhood hunger in Vermont by 37% from 2010-2015. Vermont schools with active Farm to School programs report twice the national average in vegetable consumption, declines in absenteeism and school nurse visits, and more opportunities for kids to learn about food and nutrition. Teachers, farmers, students, administrators, food service staff and practitioners around the State are partnering through the Vermont Farm to School Network to scale their impact and the benefits for students, schools and communities.
Festivities will kick off in Vermont Monday, October 2, when Governor Phil Scott will sign a proclamation declaring October to be Vermont’s Farm to School Month at 1:00PM in the Governor’s Ceremonial Offices at the Statehouse. Second Graders from Northfield Elementary School will be on hand to witness the Proclamation’s reading and signing and to “gift” the Governor with saved seed packets and muffins made with ingredients from their Harvest School Garden.
We're excited to celebrate the month by asking YOU - the Farm to School champions - to share the impact of the our collective work to create healthy kids, farms, and communities with those who can influence its growth: school leaders and local legislators. Invite a legislator, school board member, or school administrator to lunch in the cafeteria, a student harvest festival, or a tour of your school garden. When local leaders see Farm to School in action, they can become our best allies for Farm to School support. We've developed a tip sheet for any schools that want to reach out to local leaders, and we invites all schools to share their events. Email and scheduled visits or stories to [email protected], and post photos and events on social media with the hashtag #vtftsmonth.
You can also learn more about the Farm to School work happening in your region of Vermont by attending one of our six Farm to School Regional Gatherings taking place across the state during the month of October. All are welcome, including people currently leading and coordinating FTS activities, folks interested in or supportive of FTS, school volunteers, groundskeepers, food service/cafeteria staff, classroom teachers and paras, farmers, community members, businesses who have sponsored FTS, and parents. Find the gathering closest to you.