Vermont was the first state in the country to adopt legislation to support and identify Farm to School initiatives as a state priority. Since 2006, the Vermont Farm to School grant program has provided direct funding to nearly 50 schools in 13 of the state’s 14 counties.
The grant allows schools to plan and implement Farm to School and bring local food access and education into Vermont classrooms, cafeterias and communities. Since its inception, 27 states have adopted Farm to School legislation. The Vermont Farm to School grant program has been used as a model for state and national programs.
“We are proud that the work done in Vermont has provided the rest of the country with such a strong model,” said Vermont Secretary of Agriculture, Chuck Ross. “We will continue to make Farm to School a priority. It improves student health, supports community-based agriculture, and increases agricultural literacy among the next generation of Vermonters.”
Vermont Farm to School was developed, and has been sustained by, the strong partnership between the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Department of Education, Department of Health and Vermont FEED (Food Education Every Day).
The Vermont Department of Health recently secured funding from the Centers for Disease Control, Community Transformation grant program to support Vermont’s collaborative work. These funds will allow the Vermont Agency of Agriculture to expand Farm to School over the next 5 years by providing even more funding for schools, supporting regional network development within the state, and providing resources to evaluate the impact of the Farm to School program.
More than $200,000 in State and Federal Funds have been dedicated to expand the program.
The Farm to School Network will build off of research conducted by Shelburne Farms, along with state partners, which showed students at schools with Farm to School programs exceeded the state average of vegetable consumption and nearly doubled the national average.
“Our partnership with the Agency of Agriculture and Farm to School Network, and the state’s strong support for the program, has had a remarkable impact in improving the overall health of our state,” said Health Commissioner Harry Chen, MD. “Farm to School is one of many reasons we are routinely recognized as the healthiest state in the nation.”
The Vermont Agency of Agriculture is currently accepting applications for Farm to School Planning and Implementation grants as well as Regional Network Development grants. For more information visit http://www.vermontagriculture.com/education/farmtoschool/index.html