The Farm to School program partners local farms with K-12 schools to provide Florida children with nourishing, locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables in school cafeterias.
Every year, Florida schools spend millions of dollars for fresh produce. The Farm to School program is intended to open the door for more of those dollars to stay within Florida. It will also support Florida farmers by promoting opportunities for schools and growers to work together to increase the volume of locally grown product that is served in school cafeterias and dining halls. Incorporating locally grown products into school meals also supports local economies, reduces transportation costs and helps to preserve farms and farmland.
We encourage nutrition and agriculture education through taste tests, school gardens, composting programs and farm tours — initiatives that also support local and regional farmers. These experiences help children understand where their food comes from and how their food choices affect their bodies, environment and community.
Additionally, the Fresh for Florida Kids program serves as an information clearinghouse. Schools gain access to seasonal fresh Florida produce at the best possible price while farmers learn about fruit and vegetable needs of schools.
Farm to School History
Florida's pioneering and successful Farm to School program was initiated by a group of innovative African-American farmers after they formed the New North Florida Cooperative Association Inc. (NNFC) in 1995. The NNFC began selling to Gadsden County schools during the 1996-1997 school year and since that time has rapidly expanded, selling to a total of 15 school districts in Florida, Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi during the 2003-2004 school year. Positive word-of-mouth publicity has led to a high demand for the NNFC's products among school districts. To adjust for changes associated with expansion, the NNFC has functioned as a council that helps connect farmers to local schools since 2002.
Other entities are involved in this Farm to School program. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service, through the USDA Child Feeding Program, and the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), through its National School Lunch Program, allow the cooperative to produce and market fresh fruits and vegetables to area school districts. The DOD provides payment flow as part of the DOD Fresh Program.
- Drink plenty of water before, during and after physical activity.
- Do some yard work. Tasks like pulling weeds, mowing the lawn, trimming the hedges and raking leaves are all very physically demanding and use a range of muscle groups.
Furthermore, the Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) Cooperative Extension Program provides assistance through its Marketing and Small Farms Outreach Program led by Ms. Vonda Richardson. Another important link in the Farm to School partnership includes county school district representatives.
In an effort to promote healthy lifestyles and provide schoolchildren in the state of Florida with “Fresh From Florida” produce, FDACS often seeks producers who can provide fresh, high-quality, seasonal, Florida-grown produce products to participating school districts. Contact us to receive email notice when statewide and regional bids are available.