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. Nearly 4 in 5 Vermont schools have some Farm to School integration, 62% purchase over 10% of their food from local sources, and 65% of schools are connected to a local farmer or farm. 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.
Join us Monday, October 22, at Berlin Elementary School to celebrate Farm to School efforts from across the state. We'll share information from the recent Farm to School Data Harvest for Vermont and celebrate the awarding of an USDA Farm to School grant for Vermont. The press conference begins at 11:15.
- Aaron Boynton, Berlin Elementary School Principal
- Misse Axelrod, Farmer & Educator
- Betsy Rosenbluth, Vermont Farm to School Network
- Vermont Secretary of Agriculture Anson Tebbetts
- Pollaidh Major, representing U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy
Berlin Elementary School, 372 Paine Turnpike N, Berlin, VT 05602
Additionally, we're excited to celebrate the month by asking YOU—the Farm to School champions—to share the impact of our collective work to create healthy kids, farms, and communities with those who can influence its growth: school boards, superintendents, and legislative candidates. Invite a candidate, school board member, or superintendent 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 invite all schools to share their events, visits, or stories with [email protected]. Post your photos and events on social media with the hashtag #vtftsmonth.