Farm to School: Canada Digs In!

Farm to School: Canada Digs In

Farm to School: Canada Digs In! is  a three year, evidence-based, results-focused national initiative that builds on Farm to Cafeteria Canada’s strong and diverse national network and bilingual e-platforms, to scale up  efforts to get  healthy local foods into the minds, onto the plates of students across Canada.

The Farm to School approach engages multiple partners–including students, the school community, and the local food supply chain sector–in a process to implement school and campus-based programs that seek to address social, economic, and environmental determinants that contribute to poor eating habits among Canadian students.

Farm to School: Canada Digs In! will establish, implement and evaluate programs in at least 59 elementary, middle and secondary schools and at least 14 campuses in 5 provinces across Canada  BC, ON, QC, NB and NL.

All Farm to School programs, whether they are based in a elementary, middle, secondary school or campus setting will include a comprehensive set of activities designed to improve student nutrition and  food literacy while strengthening the local food system. Three core activities include:

  • Develop, implement and evaluate experiential food education activities (such as a school garden or a point of purchase educational campaign).
  • Develop and implement food procurement policy.
  • Provide a salad bar food service featuring a wide variety of vegetables and fruits. 

This national initiative will undergo a comprehensive evaluation to explore the process, the benefits and the impact of the Farm to School approach. The Farm to School: Canada Digs in! Story will be brought to life through the development of multiple tools including case studies, fact sheets, info-graphs and a video. Project findings will be shared widely through multiple mediums such as educational webinars and teleconferences, regional training sessions and a national conference.

“Farm to School Canada Digs in is a wonderful example of what is possible when multiple partners who have aligned values, and a diversity of experiences and knowledge come together at the same table to advance a common aim – more healthy local foods in the minds and on the plates of students. The potential for sustaining the work that will be undertaken is strong at this table as partners see this project as part of a broader vision – creating vibrant sustainable foods systems that support the health of people, place and planet.” Joanne Bays, National Manager Farm to Cafeteria Canada

Principal Partners

The principal partners engaged in Farm to School Canada Digs in Include:

Farm to Cafeteria Canada (F2CC) is a pan-Canadian organization whose vision is “vibrant and sustainable regional food systems that support the health of people place and planet.” F2CC works with partners across Canada to educate, build capacity, strengthen partnerships, and influence policy to bring local, healthy, and sustainable foods into all public institutions.

The Public Health Agency of Canada supports innovative partnerships with the private and not-for-profit sectors, and organizations outside the health sector to mobilize new ways to enable Canadians to lead healthy lives, and promote healthy eating, physical activity, and address the common risk factors that underlie major chronic diseases.

Whole Kids Foundation (WKF) is based in Austin, Texas and operates as an independent, non-profit organization. By empowering schools and inspiring families in the US, Canada and the UK, the Foundation aims to help children reach optimal health through the strength of a healthy body fueled by nutritious food.

The Social Planning and Research Council of British Columbia (SPARC BC) is a leader in applied social research, social policy analysis and community development approaches to social justice. They work with communities to build a just and healthy society for all. 

Meal Exchange (MX) is a national registered charity working with over a third of the universities in Canada running programs in over 100 communities across the country. For over 20 years, Meal Exchange has been supporting students to develop innovative solutions addressing food insecurity and building sustainable food systems on their campuses and with communities.

Heart&Stroke, More moments. More life. That’s why Heart & Stroke leads the fight against heart disease and stroke. Powered by donors and volunteers, we fund life-saving research and help Canadians lead healthier lives.

Public Health Association of British Columbia (PHABC) is a voluntary, non-profit, non-government, member driven organization that provides leadership to promote health, well-being and social equity. Farm to School BC, an initiative of PHABC promotes and supports schools and communities working together to bring healthy, local, just and sustainable food into BC schools.

Sustain Ontario (SO) is a province-wide, cross sectoral alliance that promotes healthy food and farming. The Ontario Edible Education Network, an initiative of Sustain Ontario, has been established to bring these groups together to: share resources, ideas, and experience; work together on advocacy; and make it easier for people across Ontario to get children and youth eating, growing, cooking, celebrating, and learning about healthy, local and sustainably produced food.

Equiterre,  is a non-profit organization based in Montreal with offices in Quebec City and Ottawa that offers concrete solutions to accelerate the transition towards a society in which individuals, organizations and governments make ecological choices that are both healthy and equitable.

New Brunswick Department  of Agriculture Aquaculture and Fisheries The mandate of the Department of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries is to develop and implement a total development approach for the agriculture, aquaculture, fisheries and value-added sectors. This approach aims at improving the economic competitiveness and sustainable development of these sectors and related industries.

Food First NL, is a provincial non-profit organization that has been at the forefront of food security efforts in Newfoundland and Labrador since 1998. Food First Newfoundland and Labrador’s mission is to actively promote comprehensive, community-based solutions to ensure access to adequate, healthy food for all. 

6 Responses
  1. jfrench@smcdsb.on.ca'
    Jonathan French

    Hello. I am an elementary school teacher and also a market gardener/farmer of organic vegetables. I am interested in finding ways to access funding to establish an onsite garden and greenhouse project at my school in Barrie, Ontario. The purpose would be to use the garden and greenhouse to support healthy snacking at school, nutrition education, and a variety of other curriculum linked programs. Happy to hear of how to get this started.

    1. F2CC admin

      Hi Jonathan!

      Thanks so much for contacting us! We would love to have your school involved in the Farm to School movement!

      We do not yet have grants planned for 2019, but it is quite possible we’ll be issuing a call for grants at some time in 2019. My best suggestion for staying on top of this would be to follow us on social media, and sign-up for our newsletter (if you’re not already) .

      If you’re just starting out, you can take a look at some of the resources (http://www.farmtocafeteriacanada.ca/resources/featured-resources/) we’ve published that give you a lot of great ideas on how to start a Farm to School program in your school. A really good resource that’s pretty much a step by step is our New Brunswick Farm to School Guide. http://www.farmtocafeteriacanada.ca/2017/12/new-brunswick-farm-to-school-guide/

      You should also know that if your school is currently participating in any Farm to School activities, you can get involved in Farm to School Month which is happening right now! When you register, you have a chance to win a $1500 grant. This is only for the month of October, so you have one week left to enter. It’s a great way to get a little seed money for a school garden. http://www.farmtocafeteriacanada.ca/resources/featured-resources/

      Other things you or your school can do is sign up for our newsletter on the home page of our website: http://www.farmtocafeteriacanada.ca/
      It’s sent out twice a year, in the spring and fall.

      You can also stay connected and follow us on social media at

      Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/FarmtocafeteriaCanada/
      and Twitter: https://twitter.com/Farm2Cafeteria

      Thanks so much and hope to have you join us soon!

  2. sunturtle54@gmail.com'

    THIS sounds like a wonderful idea…..have been involved in a similar concept in the Albert County area of N.B……school had garden plots that 3-4 people got the kids, at noon time, to come out and turn over, plant, watch and weed, for about 1 -1 1/2 months before school ended….the kids did not see the fruition of what they had planted. School ended and kids left. The 3-4 people getting the kids to plant could maintain the gardens throughout the summer if they wanted, but No kids were involved. Then the kids could enjoy some of the produce when they returned in the fall, IF there was any as through the summer, being unattended regularly, passersby with no concept of gardening or it’s advantages, would pull out an destroy the gardens, so there was very little to nothing for the kids to be involved in upon their return….seemed like a thankless venture for the 3-4 people involved and moot point for the kids as there was no way to “reap their rewards”. Glad to see a Practical concept that you present. Best of Luck with this

    1. F2CC admin

      Thanks for contacting us lutes! There can be challenges to maintaining a school garden for all the reason you mention. A lot of the schools that maintain their gardens reply on volunteers to help out with weeding and harvesting. Posting signs that say “School Garden” might help passer-bys to recognize what the area is used for. This is one of the reasons why community involvement is so important! We hope you find the resources and personnel to help support your school’s garden in the future! Please feel free to look through our Resources section for ideas!

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