A leading Vermont Farm to School initiative convenes 12 school teams from the six New England states and New York this week at Shelburne Farms. The event kicks off Vermont Food Education Every Day’s year-long Northeast Farm to School Institute to advance food, farm, and nutrition education and to expand local products served in school cafeterias.
During a three-day retreat at Shelburne Farms, teams of food service staff, teachers, administrators, and community partners will meet with peers and experts to learn about farm-to-school programs. Teams will develop plans for the coming school year and work with a farm-to-school coach to put it into practice at their schools by making farm visits, doing gardening and cooking activities, serving seasonal foods in school cafeterias, and offering food-based, hands-on science, math, and literacy lessons.
Over its 10 years, the Institute has supported farm-to-school programs at 62 schools and districts, reaching over 38,000 Northeast students. The institute expects to grow due to recent legislation passed in Vermont that sets goals a goal of 75 percent of schools having farm-to-school programming by 2025 and 50 percent of school food to be purchased from local or regional sources. This year’s Institute also will host groups from Georgia, Massachusetts, and New York, all looking to adapt the Institute model to their own states.
VT FEED is a partnership program of Shelburne Farms and the Northeast Organic Farming Association.