Supporters Hope to Expand Farm to School Program


The Farm to School movement is an effort to connect fresh foods grown by local farmers with schools throughout the state.  The program has reached more than 30 thousand students in Vermont.  Supporters of the fresh food movement were at the State House today.  They’re trying to convince lawmakers to expand the program.

“Child nutrition programs are about food access,” said Doug Davis, Food Service Director for Burlington Schools.  He says the district has been a part of the Farm to School movement since 2003, “We need to make sure our kids are accessing the healthy meals that they need,” he said.

Besty Rosenbluth is Project Director for Vermont Feed.  It’s a Farm to School program sponsored by Shelburne Farms and the Northeast Organic Farming Association.  She says the program bring cafeterias, classrooms, and communities together.

It’s why Rosenbluth and other champions of the program are  here at the State House hoping to expand the program to include child care centers and beyond.  “We know that when a kid knows a farmer, and a kid grows food and is involved in cooking and preparing that food, it’s more likely they’ll make choices to eat that healthy food,” said Rosenbluth.

Eighty-four percent of Vermont schools report some kind of Farm to School activity.  Studies show schools with Farm to School programs double their vegetable consumption.  “We not only have to get people to buy Vermont products when they’re in season, but recognize healthy eating is a year round job,” said Davis.

Todd Brown owns and operates Farmer Brown Farms in Enosburg.  He sends his locally owned meats and veggies to area schools and sees the health benefits.  “The students have more focus, they’re paying more attention, there’s less of a tired feeling after lunch.  It just helps them go about their day better,” said Brown.  Twenty-six percent of Vermont teens are overweight or obese, Farmer Brown says local foods through Farm to School can help reverse that trend.

For Doug Davis and Burlington Schools, the Farm to School program will continue to serve many purposes despite costing more, “It isn’t just about the food, it’s about investing in the local economy.  It’s about investing in the farmers, the ideas, the access,” stated Davis.

The Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets, estimates that states institutions including schools, hospitals and Higher Ed, are a potential $11 million market for local foods.


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