Community Building: Growing a Model Farm to School Program with Community Partnerships

Monday, July 22, 2013
Desert Ballroom: Salons 7-8 (Desert Springs J.W Marriott Resort )
Heather Friedrich , Horticulture, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR
Curt R. Rom, Co-Director, Center for Agricultural and Rural Sustainability , Horticulture, Dale Bumpers College, Fayetteville, AR
Samantha E. Jones , Department of Crop, Soils and Environmental Sciences, Fayetteville Public Schools, Fayetteville, AR
Dana Smith, Sustainability Coordinator , Fayetteville Public Schools, Fayetteville
Adam Simmons, Director of Food Service , Fayetteville Public Schools, Fayetteville, AR
Elizabeth Ashbaugh, Executive Director , Apple Seeds, Inc., Fayetteville, AR
Christina Thomas, Producer , KUAF Public Radio, Fayetteville, AR
Fayetteville Public Schools (FPS), the University of Arkansas, Apple Seeds Inc. (a local non-profit focused on nutrition education), Feed Fayetteville (a local non-profit dedicated to alleviating hunger through local resources), and KUAF radio (the local NPR affiliate), collaborated to develop a successful Farm to School (F2S) model program in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  The program was funded through the Southern SARE Community Development Program.  This initiative was implemented through the summer lunch program at FPS middle school which offers a free, summer noon-time meal program.   Through this partnership a core group of growers was interested in participating in a F2S program and producing for the FPS.  A student nutrition education program was implemented through signage and field trips to the participating local farms and to the Fayetteville farmers’ market.  Community awareness of farm to school was increased through a series of stories on KUAF’s daily news magazine, Ozarks at Large.  Obstacles and challenges to implementation and expansion have been identified from the perspective of each of the various partners.  Information on establishing a farm to school program, recruiting growers, incorporating nutrition education, identifying community partners and their challenges were shared with area child nutrition directors and school administrators in regional workshop.  Some key lessons learned included:  the flexibility of the summer lunch menu allowed the cafeteria staff to easily add local produce into the menu; lunch buddies were organized so that food and farming enthusiasts could eat lunch with kids and talk to them about food production and nutrition; signage in the lunch area about local foods was helpful especially if there was no regular classroom education on local foods; willing cafeteria staff was critical to success.  As a result of this project and previous farm to school activities, FPS has expanded farm to school programming with a recently received USDA Farm to School grant.
See more of: Local Food Systems (Poster)
See more of: Poster Abstracts