Are you already among the thousands of farmers who already welcome children to your farm, and/or supply produce to a school meal program? As we occasionally mention on this blog, attending part or all of a conference can be one of the best ways to get together with your peers and other experts to gather and share ideas, compare experiences, and recharge your energy.
32 Million children eat school meals five days a week, 180 days a year: that’s a lot of food. This August, a conference focusing on the school-food side of Farm to School is coming to Burlington, Vermont.
The National Farm to School Network estimates that all 50 states can boast some form of a farm-to-school program, whether focusing on education or distribution or some combination. While programs connecting kids with food and farmers take as many different shapes as there are schools and farms, they generally include activities like:
- serving healthy meals in school cafeterias
- improving student nutrition
- providing agriculture, health and nutrition education opportunities
- supporting local and regional farmers
Starting on August 2 with a day of short courses and field trips, the conference will include dozens of workshops covering every angle of getting your produce from a field plan to a planted field, from the wash station to distribution, and onto a cafeteria tray! The schedule offers a variety of learning formats and networking opportunities, from regional round-table sessions to interactive workshops. Speakers and presenters include outreach and education powerhouses like the Food Project and FoodCorps; university researchers, the Real Food Challenge, and other campus efforts; state and national agricultural service providers like the Extension Service and other USDA programs; and a host of other farmers, non-profits, and community partnerships.
The conference is hosted by the National Farm to School Network with local partner VT-FEED (Food Education Every Day), a partnership of three Vermont non-profit organizations: Food Works at Two Rivers Center, Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont (NOFA-VT), and Shelburne Farms. If it fits your schedule and your budget, consider joining for a day or for the whole conference, and get together with the other food service professionals, farmers, educators, policy makers, representatives from government agencies and nonprofits, entrepreneurs, students and others who are breaking down barriers and expanding the impact of Farm to Cafeteria!