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Farm to school is a win for all

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Tara Dunker

Tara Dunker

If you like the idea of healthy children and a robust local economy, then consider yourself a proponent of Farm to School.

Never heard of it before?

Farm to School is a program that communities can adopt to connect children, schools and local farmers. Research shows these connections improve a child’s nutrition and academic performance, strengthen local food systems and protect the environment.

While no two Farm to School programs are exactly alike, each gives children better access to healthy, local foods as well as hands-on learning opportunities like school gardens, cooking lessons and farm field trips.

The ultimate goal of Farm to School is to empower children and their families to make informed food choices while strengthening the local economy and contributing to vibrant communities.

If that’s not a good enough reason to support Farm to School, check out the five benefits identified by the National Farm to School Network.

1. Farm to School can be a real boost for rural economies. Each dollar invested in Farm to School efforts contributes an additional $0.06-$2.16 to the economy. Individual farmers may see an average 5% increase in income from cafeteria sales and establish a long-term revenue stream.

2. Farm to School supports healthy eating habits by boosting the quality of food served in the cafeteria. When schools offer school gardens, 44% of students eat more fruits and vegetables. When schools serve food from local farmers, 33% of students eat more fruits and vegetables.

3. Farm to School improves overall academic achievement in K-12. This boost includes grades and test scores as well as physical activity and social emotional growth. Farm to School offers innovative teaching platforms for core subjects, such as science, math, and language arts, and greater opportunities for hands-on learning.

4. Farm to School reduces local food waste. This reduction is seen both on the production side and the plate waste side. Farm to School supports environmentally sound, sustainable and socially just food production, processing, packaging, transportation and marketing.

5. Farm to School increases community awareness. This increase is shown through support from parents and community for healthier school meals—connecting communities and schools in a really authentic way.

If you have any further questions, please contact Tara Dunker at 402-223-1384, tara.dunker@unl.edu, or visit the Gage County Extension website at www.gage.unl.edu.

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