Farm to school is a set of educational activities that includes school gardens, local food cooking classes and demonstrations, farm field trips, and the serving of local food in school cafeterias. Farm to school helps keep local farms in business with additional market opportunities. Incorporating local products into school meals also helps keep dollars in the local economy and develops ties between the farming and school communities.
The growth of farm to school programs in WNC can be seen in the proliferation of events and activities in our schools (in 2013-14 school year, ASAP worked with over 120 schools in 20 counties, providing over 15,000 children with farm to school experiences). From the local sourcing and cafeteria taste tests done by Child Nutrition Directors to the many school gardens, chefs in classrooms, and hands-on educational opportunities provided by teachers, volunteers, and other members of the community, farm to school is thriving in communities across our region.
ASAP’s Growing Minds Farm to School program, which began in 2002, works with area schools to support and provide resources for farm to school programming. In partnership with Buncombe County School Nutrition Director Lisa Payne and the child nutrition staff at North Buncombe and Fairview Elementary schools, ASAP has been conducting monthly cafeteria taste tests. Kids at these schools get a taste of a locally grown product each month in the school cafeteria, which is then connected lessons in the classroom.
Since 2010, ASAP – in collaboration with Western Carolina University and Lenoir-Rhyne University – has developed innovative methods for incorporating local food and farm to school training and experiences into curricula for nutrition and dietetics and education students. The resulting project, Growing Minds @ University, is changing the lives and future careers of hundreds of university students each year. The result? These university students are empowered with the skills and knowledge to help thousands of children and adults lead healthier lives.
See more from the LOSRC/ASAP/NEMAC project:
- Engaged Communities
- Diversity of Independent Local Food Businesses
- Equitable and Fair Food System