Vermont FEED’s Farm to School Institute expands to five more states

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Vermont FEED’s Farm to School Institute expands to five more states

Wed, 06/22/2022 - 3:06pm -- tim
To Adapt the Institute Model to Strengthen Their Communities

Vermont Business Magazine Vermont FEED will expand its Northeast Farm to School Institute nationwide for the first time this year, supporting teams from Arkansas, Nebraska, Connecticut, Oregon, and Washington as they adopt a Vermont-born model to strengthen school communities in their states.

Vermont FEED is a partnership project of The Shelburne Farms Institute for Sustainable Schools and NOFA-VT. This first-ever Institute Adaption Program is a partnership of Vermont FEED with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food, and Nutrition Service through a Cooperative Agreement.

“It’s such a great opportunity to make lasting and systemic change in schools, early childhood programs, and food systems not just in the Northeast, but across the country, so that kids can eat and connect with fresh local foods, farmers can serve their local communities, and those communities can become more resilient,” says Vermont FEED Project Director Betsy Rosenbluth.

Why Farm to School?
Farm to school is a movement in today’s school communities focused on building meaningful connections between the “3Cs”: Classrooms, Cafeterias, and Communities. The goal: support students in connecting the dots of where their food comes from and how their food choices impact their bodies, the environment, and their communities at large. More than half of America’s children—nearly 30 million students—get daily nutrition from school meals, and schools spend over $6.3 billion on food costs. These numbers present enormous opportunities for whole-school change that fosters improved learning outcomes, a more robust local food economy, and thriving communities.

“We must invest in the health of the next generation and that includes ensuring that students across the country have access to the benefits of Farm to School programing,” says Senator Patrick Leahy, a long time champion of farm to school. Senator Leahy was the original author of the federal Farm To School program in the 2010 Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act and is a senior member of the Senate Agriculture Committee.

Why the Farm to School Institute?

Since 2010, the annual, year-long Institute has built enduring farm to school programs in over 100 schools, districts, and early childhood programs. It works by helping school and early childhood teams —which represent a diverse cross-section of school communities, from classroom teachers to nutrition staff, principals to local farmers — create and implement action plans that can ultimately shift school culture. These teams are paired with an experienced coach from their region who helps tailor that plan to their needs and put it to work throughout the school year. Teams walk into the first day of school ready with a strategy and support system for turning ideas into action, building buy-in, and forging new relationships in their communities.

“Year after year, it is always an inspiration to see what teams accomplish back at their schools,” shares Jen Cirillo, Shelburne Farms Institute for Sustainable Schools Director of Professional Learning. “Teams are creating lasting change — nutrition staff are purchasing local foods to feed students in the cafeteria, educators are exploring food justice in their curricula, and students are using food as a vehicle for taking care of their community.”

How is the Institute Growing this Year?

From June 28–30, 2022, Vermont FEED will kick off the 12th annual Northeast Farm to School Institute at Shelburne Farms with a summer retreat for selected school teams. The five adaptation state teams will travel to Vermont for an intensive training in conjunction with the summer retreat to experience the Institute in action. After a competitive application process, nine Northeast school teams were selected to attend the 2022-23 Northeast Farm to School Institute:

  • Alburgh Community Education Center, Alburgh, VT

  • Bellows Free Academy, St. Albans, VT

  • City Hill, Naugatuck, CT

  • Kiddie Kampus, Inc., Dartmouth, MA

  • Rivendell Interstate School District, Orford, NH

  • Science Academy of New York, Syracuse, NY

  • Sebasticook Valley Elementary School, Newport, ME

  • Smithfield Public Schools, Smithfield, RI

  • Windham Southeast Supervisory Union — Oak Grove School, Brattleboro, VT

Vermont FEED is a farm to school partnership project of NOFA-VT and The Shelburne Farms Institute for Sustainable Schools that seeks to engage every student and community in a local food and farm culture that nurtures child health, cultivates viable farms, and builds vibrant communities. These two nonprofit organizations have more than forty years of experience in farm to school, supporting teachers, school nutrition staff, farmers, and administrators.

July 22, 2022, Shelburne, VT — Vermont FEED