The benefits of the Farm to School concept are many:
- The school system becomes a reliable market for local farm products, providing some measure of security to existing growers and increasing overall demand for agricultural activity locally.
- The school, in turn, has reliable sources of healthy, nutritious, top-quality foods with which to feed kids, reducing reliance on prepackaged items and junk foods, allowing the inclusion of more fresh fruits and vegetables, minimizing dependence on USDA commodity foods (largely beef and dairy), and arriving at a more appetizing result.
- The children eat healthier, learn better nutrition habits in the long term, and often spend time learning about local and sustainable agriculture. The program can simply introduce the idea that it's possible-- even interesting-- to know where your lunch comes from.
- As with all local, seasonal eating, the environmental benefits of all that food not grown according to a giant corporate model, and not shipped across the continent or further, are substantial.
There'll be more to say on this topic later; I can attest, however, that my daughter absolutely raved about the lunch on the first day of school. Besides the Farm to School effort, the school is also making general changes to the menu in order to apply for a Gold Award in the USDA HealthierUS School challenge, changes that include:
- more fruits and vegetables
- more whole-grain foods and fiber
- low-fat dairy items
- more homemade entrees