Child nutrition programs in the United States refer to the group of federally funded programs designed to support meal programs for school age-children.
It’s important to keep our young children nourished throughout the day. But what role does nutrition play in the philosophy of these child nutrition programs? How often do we stop to ask that question? Have we ever stopped to ask that question?
The National Farm to School Network believes child nutrition programs should be focused on procuring healthy children. And one way to do that would be the support of farm to school programs – programs through which schools buy farm-fresh food goods from local farms.
The USDA Farm to School Program was established with a $5 million allocation in the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (the last iteration of CNA). The program helps schools and other eligible entities support farm to school activities in their communities. Supported activities include identifying community stakeholders, purchasing product from local and regional farmers and processors, building school gardens, taste-testing curricula and farm field trips. The program has been incredibly successful, having a 5-1 demand to supply ratio, with 75 percent of grants made to schools, education and public health agencies, and non-profits.
On the frontlines, communities are experiencing incredible behavior change and nutrition benefits from incorporating farm to school activities. In Georgia, we have increased student consumption of green leafy vegetables with the addition of local collard greens – a farmer went so far as to tweak his soil to grow less bitter greens for our students! And we did away with french fries in the cafeteria after students went crazy for roasted red ranch potatoes purchased from a local grower. This isn’t just what we have seen in Georgia and across the country – it’s what the data shows. Students who participate in farm to school activities eat more fruits and vegetables, are willing to try new foods, consume less unhealthy foods and sodas and choose healthier options in the cafeteria and at home.
Go to the National Farm to School Network site to read the full article.
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