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Local in the Lunchroom – Results From The USDA Farm to School Census

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The USDA’s National Farm to School Census  data was made available on October 22, 2013, just 12 days after Farm to Cafeteria Canada released the first national survey of local food activity in Canadian schools, campuses and health care facilities

To determine the prevalence of farm to school programs in the United States, USDA surveyed an estimated 13,000 public school districts. Of the 13,000 public school districts surveyed, 43% are working to bring local foods into schools. The estimated impact on local food economies? $354,599,266 annually! Fruits and Vegetables topped the list of local food items on student trays and American students can expect to see increases in plant based proteins, grains, herbs, meat, poultry and eggs in the future. Not surprising was the fact that many schools are engaged a variety of  educational activities – 13% of schools surveyed  have edible school gardens (that’s 3743 school gardens).

“I am excited to see this, says Joanne Bays, National Manager of Farm to Cafeteria Canada. “The US Farm to School census was conducted about 6 months after the Canadian Farm to Cafeteria survey. You know you are onto something big when the USDA follows suit. While the data in each report cannot be directly compared (as the funding and therefore the methodologies for data collection were very different) each document casts a local lens on the national school foodscape illuminating an enormous table of local food activity and an appetite for more”, says Bays.

For further information about Canada’s Farm to Cafeteria Survey, contact Joanne Bays, National Manager Farm to Cafeteria Canada at farm2school@gmail.com

For further information about the US farm to School Census, contact Matt Benson. USDA Farm to School Program matthew.benson@fns.usda.gov.

 

About the author

Joanne Bays is the National Manager of Farm to Cafeteria Canada. She is a population health nutritionist and a food policy consultant with a special interest in food localism and its impact on personal, community, school, and environmental health.

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