National Farm-to-School Month: Highlighting 30 Innovative programs from Across the Globe
October is national Farm-to-School Month in the United States. Thousands of schools, education sites, and organizations across the world, are embracing food education through school gardens, educational farms, and school meals filled with nutritious, local, and seasonal ingredients. It’s time to celebrate farm-to-school organizations from around the globe.
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Farm-to-school programs can help bring locally sourced and nutritious food to school cafeterias, improve child nutrition, provide agriculture, health, and nutrition education opportunities to young people, and support local farmers. 20 years ago there were less than 10 farm-to-school programs in the United States, and now, more than 40 percent of schools host programs, reaching over 23 million children.
The National Farm to School Network estimates that for every dollar invested in farm-to-school activities, it can generate more than two dollars in local economic activity, increase children’s fruit and vegetable consumption by more than 40 percent, engage parents in healthier eating at home, reduce food waste at the school, and improve student test scores. Farm-to-school programs can help inspire healthier eating habits in children and these habits can lead to higher educational outcomes. Further, when children learn about the connection between their food and the environment, they often become better stewards of the land. Across the globe, farm-to-school programs are helping foster connections between students, teachers, parents, farmers, and policymakers through activities that support health, nutrition, agriculture, and local economies.
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Food Tank is celebrating farm-to-school month by featuring 29 inspiring and innovative farm-to-school programs from around the world. These programs are working to build connections between schools and farmers, making significant impacts on child health, school attendance rates, food security, and farmer livelihoods in many communities.
Ghana School Feeding programme, Ghana
The Ghana School Feeding programme (GFSp), launched by the former Ghanaian government in 2005, started in just 10 schools and has now grown to feed more than 1.4 million children across 4,500 schools in Ghana. The program has helped increase school attendance, domestic food production, farmer and household incomes, and food security in many communities across the country. Active across 170 districts, the GSFp is helping reduce child hunger in some of Ghana’s most isolated communities.
purchase from Africans for Africa program, multiple countries
The purchase from Africans for Africa program (pAA) links smallholder farmers with local schools in Ethiopia, Malawi, Mozambique, Niger, and Senegal. In its pilot phase, more than 1,000 metric tons of locally procured food was served to nearly 130,000 students across 420 schools. Family farmers’ productivity rates have increased by more than 100 percent because of this guaranteed market for the food they produce. pAA is a partnership between the Government of Brazil, the Government of the United Kingdom, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and the World Food program’s purchase for progress initiative.
Sustainable farming is more and more used in the world. In Ireland, Origin Green encourages Irish farmers to work on food sustainability and prolong the lifespan of unique natural resources through contemporary farming.
Farm to School Africa, multiple countries
One school farm at a time, Farm to School Africa seeks to expand into every community in Africa. Currently, in 5 schools reaching over 2,000 students and teachers, they are setting up school farms and training teachers to become farm instructors. Students are learning how to grow and eat healthy food, nurture plants, and contribute to healthy food production in their communities. Farm to School Africa focuses on building enduring connections between children and their food.
Chengelo School, Zambia
The Chengelo Farm partners with the Chengelo School to harness the creativity and passion of young people in an effort to preserve sustainable agriculture across the nation. The farm-to-school collaboration begins with students starting as early as pre-school and extends through secondary school, providing opportunities to work on the farm and learn a variety of agricultural skills. They also offer formal trainings for farmers, opportunities for agribusinesses to conduct research, and support to local communities through Foundations Zambia.
Developing Innovations in School Cultivation (project DISC ), Uganda
Founded by Edward Mukiibi and Roger Sserunjogi in 2006, Developing Innovations in School Cultivation (project DISC) partners with Slow Food International to bring together students, teachers, parents, and school administrators with the goal of reshaping the way young people look at farming. Many schools in Uganda use farming as a form of discipline, creating a stigma around agriculture as a vocational choice. project DISC works with schools to grow indigenous crops, teach students how to save seeds, and integrate fresh produce into school meals. The program strives to help students consider farming as a desirable career option.
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