Farm to School in Minnesota
Farm to School in Minnesota grew from the commitment of the University of Minnesota Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships. According to a March 2011 survey conducted by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy in partnership with the Minnesota School Nutrition Association, the number of Minnesota school districts engaged in Farm to School rose from ten in 2006 to 123 districts in 2010.
With more than 780,000 meals served to Minnesota students on an average day in 2010, there is enormous opportunity to provide a steady market for Minnesota farmers and ensure the health and wellbeing of future generations.
Schools engaged in Farm to School have reported a 3-16% increase in school meal participation. Additionally, studies have shown that Farm to School initiatives increase consumption of fruits and vegetables both at school and at home.
Farm to School has proven benefits and there are many ways to get involved. Learn more about the Benefits of Farm to School.
University of Minnesota Extension is working to:
- Build Farm to School initiatives that help kids eat healthy, support nearby farmers, foster economic vitality, and strengthen communities as a co-convener of a statewide Farm to School Leadership Team. In April 2011, University of Minnesota Extension and Minnesota Department of Health brought together eleven member organizations. This team strives to maximize the resources, ideas and impact of the state's many farm to school efforts.
- Engage community members, cultivate new partnerships and work collaboratively with state departments, non-profits, and professional associations to sustain Farm to School.
- Support the Minnesota Department of Health’s Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP) as real change comes from the ground up. SHIP helps put systems in place to create healthier communities that encourage people to make healthy choices in their daily lives. By working in four areas – community, school, workplace and health care – SHIP initiatives help communities achieve widespread, lasting results.
- Sustain the efforts of the Great Trays™ Partnership which offered schools hands-on training to energize lunch menus with great ideas, tools, and resources from around the state.
- Integrate hands-on nutrition education within the Nutrition Education program to promote Farm to School.
- Increase the use of healthy, local foods in schools and to increase knowledge of students and their families about the nutritional benefits and availability of Minnesota grown and raised products.