Farm to School strengthens communities by providing multiple opportunities to build family and community engagement. While students and farmers benefit educational and economic growth opportunities from farm to school programs, involving other community members also fosters a culture of togetherness and cooperation within entire communities.
Students learn about sustainable agriculture and the origins of food through hands-on activities. Teachers and administrators are eager to provide learning opportunities regarding food and farming topics to enrich the learning experience. In some schools, school staff are hired to tend gardens and implement farm to school activities. Parents are able to become involved as volunteers and supporters of farm to school programs. Schools purchasing from regional producers and processors foster relationships with local farm and food businesses. The many people who benefit from farm to school are united by its mission; this unity helps to foster community connectedness and beneficial relationships between various members of the community.
The Food and Health Network, a program of the Rural Health Network of SCNY, partners with other local agencies to increase the use of local food in school meals; integrate food and agriculture education in the cafeteria, classroom, and community; and empower students through involvement in their local food system in South Central New York. As the students engage with farm to school, parents, teachers, administrators, and farmers also become involved. Finally, the entire community also benefits from the strengthened economy that results from purchasing local farm goods.
The Southern Tier Farm to School program allows community members in South Central New York to benefit from each other and grow more closely connected. Farm to school is a win for communities!