Series: The Varied Forms Of Farm To School

Schools have long served meals to students in programs supported by state and federal policies, but there's rising interest in using foods grown and raised closer to home. Farm-to-school programs aim to improve the nutrition of schoolchildren and teach them about agriculture, health, business and more. These efforts are likewise structured to create new markets for growers in nearby communities. Schools across Wisconsin have implemented farm-to-school projects and curricula. But the programs take a wide variety of forms, and making them work often requires schools, farmers and advocates to build complex new relationships and infrastructure.
A state budget proposal would cut a coordinator position for Wisconsin's farm-to-school efforts, which work to provides nutritional and educational opportunities for students. Scott Gordon of WisContext discusses the scope and logistics of these programs.
Shared via
Wisconsin Life
The only time Holmen High School junior Gracie Kromke is exposed to the stereotypical bad lunch — rubber-roni, slapping food on plates — is when she hears stories about them.
What happens when more Wisconsin school districts collectively buy locally grown food? Students and staff benefit by eating nutritious and fresh meals.
In recognition of concerning national and local trends, as well as to fill an identified gardening programming gap for teens and "tweens," the Brown County UW-Extension Community Gardens Program partnered with the Boys & Girls Club of Green Bay to pilot a youth farmers' market program in the summer of 2016.
Kids who may not be interested in eating vegetables are more willing to take a risk and try new flavors when they grow produce themselves. That's one of the ideas behind a youth farmers' market that launched in Green Bay in 2016.
Farm-to-school programs can take a variety of forms. In Wisconsin, the USDA reported that 73 percent of the 775 schools and districts surveyed participated in some type of farm-to-school program.
The farm-to-school programs developed by the School District of Holmen, located just north of La Crosse in western Wisconsin, illustrate the complex questions a district must answer to get its efforts off the ground.
As farm-to-school programs grow across Wisconsin, they've proven to be quite a learning experience, and not just for students.
As the state of Wisconsin considers eliminating funding for the farm-to-school coordinator position at the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection in its 2017-19 budget cycle, advocates fear they'll lose a crucial leg up for farmers and school districts.