December 2019 Vermont Farm to School Network Update

Vermont Farm to School Network members had a busy year expanding farm to school activities to give every Vermont student access to healthy, local food and the knowledge of where it comes from and what it does for both their bodies and their communities! Our Network Action Teams have been working all year on strategic projects to reach more schools, and more students, in more powerful ways. 

Here’s a look into some of the Action Teams’ recent progress: 

Legislative Campaign
The Campaign Team led a successful effort to restore State funding for farm to school grants and technical assistance to $231,000, with an ultimate goal of $500,000 in state funds to help us reach the Network’s goal. Since 2007, Vermont’s Farm to School Grant Program has supported 105 schools and 39 early childhood programs. The team is gearing up for the 2020 session, with Farm to School and Early Childhood Awareness Day scheduled for Wednesday, February 12. This year we are advocating for a local purchasing incentive for schools: an additional 25 cents per meal for schools buying 25% of their food locally. To get involved or find more information, sign up here.

Farm to School Regional Gatherings
The Ease of Use team held five regional gatherings across the state this fall, from Canaan to Manchester, to provide opportunities for folks doing farm to school work to connect, share, and access resources and support. 

Farm to School Campaign for School Leaders
The Educational Value and Policy Demand Teams have teamed up to reach school leaders and demonstrate the educational benefits of farm to school and school nutrition programs. The School Leaders Campaign makes the case for investing in local foods and farm to school programs, and has developed a toolkit with resources for advocates to support leaders in making informed decisions. 

Beef to Schools
The Supply Innovation team will be launching a statewide “Beef to Schools” initiative this year to help school nutrition programs get local ground beef into school meals. The team will be coordinating with the Vermont Beef Producers Association on marketing and beef will be featured as February’s Harvest of the Month.