Both schools and small farmers benefit from participation in farm-to-school initiatives. Students have access to fresh, nutritious produce, while small farmers acquire new markets. Farm-to-school programs typically integrate food services with instructional school gardens, school recycling programs, farm visits, and curriculum development to create a holistic, experiential learning environment.
Since 2000, UC SAREP has worked with the Davis Joint Unified School District to assess the district's Farm to School program. The assessments serve to consistently strengthen the program, and set a useful example for how Farm to School programs can develop and succeed.
Our most recent evaluations are available here:
In addition to the Davis Farm to School evaluation, SAREP has completed case studies and evaluations of various Farm to school programs including:
School Food Focus (FOCUS) is a national collaborative that leverages the knowledge and procurement power of large school districts to make school meals nationwide more healthful, regionally sources, and sustainably produces. This report created by SAREP analyzes the food supply and demand changes in food procurement practices, and documents the results and lessons learned from a case study in the Saint Paul, Minnesota school district.
Farm-to-School is a nationwide movement that connects local farmers who can provide fresh, seasonal produce with school food services for healthier school lunches.
New Markets for Farmers
In recent years, small- and medium-sized family farmers have been increasingly forced out of business due to a declining share of the food dollar. In response, new initiatives have been developed by community groups, small farm advocacy organizations, and school districts to increase economic opportunities for small family farmers while improving the quality of school meals. Elaborating on the concept of direct marketing, these farm-to-school projects identify school districts and other institutions that will commit to purchasing fresh produce directly from local farmers. [For more information, see Direct Marketing to Schools: A New Opportunity for Family Farmers]