On Tuesday, Oct 20th, the Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack released preliminary results
from the 2015 USDA farm to school census, which represents data from the 2013-2014 school year. The last survey was conducted two years ago, and provided information on the state of farm to school programming for the 2011-2012 school year. Final results won’t be available until early 2016, but the currently available data is very encouraging!
Over half a billion dollars were invested in local foods; an increase of 55% (212 million dollars) from the previous census. Almost half of those who responded indicated that they wanted to increase their local food purchasing even more in the future. There are now over 42,000 schools across the country who are participating in farm to school activities!
While supporting the local economy by providing new market options for local farmers, fisherman, and ranchers, 75% of respondents found these additional benefits from farm to school programming:
- Greater participation in school meals
- Increased community support
- Less food waste
- Lower food costs
The USDA wants to make sure their data is as accurate as possible, and they’re asking school districts to review and submit information at the 2015 farm to school census website. They will be accepting corrections and new data until November 20, 2015. Click here to learn more about the farm to school census.
There’s still time to make your voice heard and show your support for the 2015 Child Nutrition and Reauthorization Act, to make sure the USDA can continue to support farm to school programming, and continue to provide healthy school meals for our children.
Coming up on Thursday, October 22nd the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition is organizing a Big Day of Farm to School Action. Show your support for the Farm to School Act of 2015 by sharing your stories on social media, contacting your legislators, and helping to grow the farm to school movement!