What is farm to school in Oregon?
While farm to school programs are unique to the place and people who run them, they consist of a spectrum of activities that both serve up and celebrate our agricultural bounty. These programs connect local farmers and food processors with school cafeterias in preschools, grades K-12, and colleges. They include serving more Oregon agricultural products on the lunch line, and activities that directly connect youth to food production such as school gardens, field trips to ranches, and farmers in the classroom. Increasingly, similar procurement and promotion is occurring in other institutions such as health care facilities.
In Oregon, there are approximately 90 school districts out of 187 that indicate that they are purchasing Oregon agricultural products in addition to milk. These 90 districts serve over 65 percent of the school-aged children.
How do you find a school interested in buying locally produced foods?
FoodHub boasts a list of over 230 pre-schools, K-12 schools, colleges, and health care facilities interested in purchasing locally. Logon for free at www.food-hub.org and start meeting schools interested in purchasing locally.
What locally produced foods are schools buying?
Everything! Many farm to school efforts start off with schools purchasing fresh fruits and vegetables directly from neighboring farmers. Schools want fresh and minimally processed fruits and vegetables, as well as multi-ingredient menu items. Increasingly, schools are interested in locally produced grains, beef, and seafood.
How do schools define "local" for the purposes of buying local?
It is at the discretion of each school to define local. In Oregon, some schools define local as within 20 miles, others within in the county, and some larger districts use "the Pacific Northwest" to include Oregon, and parts of Washington and Northern California.
To learn more about Farm to School and to access answers to frequently asked questions, visit the USDA Farm to School website contact Michelle Markesteyn Ratcliffe at the Oregon Department of Agriculture.
USDA Farm to School Initiative
Oregon Department of Agriculture
Farm to School Program
Michelle Markesteyn Ratcliffe