A “farm-to-school” movement is growing fast across Canada.
More than 40,000 students were eating local fruits and vegetables at 150 Ontario schools during 2017-18, via the Tasty Ontario Tuesdays program.
Led by the southwest branch of the Ontario Student Nutrition Program (OSNP), supported by the Greenbelt Foundation and Foodland Ontario, this program has purchased and delivered over $55,000 of local produce to schools from Ontario farmers.
According to the last United States Department of Agriculture’s Farm-to-School Census, 42,587 schools participated in farm-to-school activities, reaching 23.6 million children and incorporating almost $800 million worth of local foods.
As a former OSNP practitioner and Arrell Food Scholar at the University of Guelph, I am researching the economic impact of the spread of these programs throughout Ontario, with my PhD adviser John Smithers. Our research will examine the farm-to-school phenomenon as an agri-food value chain and assess how these programs might evolve to expand the scope and sustainability of local food systems in Ontario.
Little attention has been paid to this “farm” side of the farm-to-school equation, or how small and medium-sized farmers can benefit from this rapidly expanding market and adjust their practices to meet the needs of schools. READ MORE