Food & Agriculture Education
Educating on Food & Agriculture
Without an educational element, farm to school programs are less able to impact their students’ attitudes, knowledge and behaviors around food.
The Illinois Farm to School Network provides resources to all Illinois school districts for education in farm to school programs. This website is populated with resources and tools for every aspect of farm to school education. Do you have a story about your school’s educational programs or are you able to donate your curriculum to our resource guide? Contact the IFSN to have your materials included.
Note: Our Illinois Farm to School Toolkit is currently under construction! Please check back soon for a more user-friendly design and up-to-date resources.
Fresh from the Farm
Resources for Nutrition Education
There are many resources online, free for schools to use in the classroom or garden. Nutrition education is a key element of farm to school, from Pre-K to high school. Students who learn about why eating healthy food is important for their growth, and are more frequently exposed to different kinds of foods, are more likely to eat healthfully. In the classroom, there are many tools and curriculum teachers can use. Here are a variety of free tools for nutrition education with a farm to school lens.
Parent School Garden volunteer letter
Here at Seven Generations Ahead, we encourage classroom teachers who are working on gardens, food taste tests, and other farm to school activities to ask their parent volunteer force for help. This is an example of a letter that teachers can edit and use in their classrooms for this purpose. Please use it!
Take a Field Trip
Field trips to farms are fun for students and teachers and provide great links to school garden programs and local food cafeteria programs. Imagine visiting the farm that is providing your school with milk, apples, or another Illinois product!
Illinois Farm Bureau
If you are seeking a farm to visit, the Illinois Farm Bureau is a great resource. Reach out to your county Ag Literacy Coordinatorfrom Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom to learn more about the farms in your area. IATC also offers the ‘Adopt a Classroom’ program that links schools with ag writers.
Angelics Organics Learning Center
In Northern Illinois, there is an educational farm that offers field trips and workshops for all ages: Angelic Organics Learning Center. Angelic Organics Learning Center is a member of the Illinois Farm to School Network.
Liberty Prairie Foundation
Liberty Prairie Foundation, a 501(c)(3) private operating foundation in Grayslake, Illinois. The foundation works to build and strengthen the local food system while supporting healthy ecosystems and vibrant communities. Prairie Crossing Farm is the Headquarters for the foundation. The foundation offers many programs such as farm and youth development, leadership and financial support for sustainable local food system development, conservation and environmental education, and social entrepreneurship. Prairie Crossing Farm is an organic farm that is the source of the food used in the Prairie Farm Corps youth program. This is an interactive and educational program where young boys and girls can learn to plant, grow, harvest, and cook organic, locally procured food. The foundation also offers tours on its organic farm and provides links to other nearby farms that also offer farm tours.
Get the Parents Invovled
Many farm to school education programs incorporate parent education as a part of their curriculum. There are many benefits of bringing parents into the program, and these can include:
Those were just a few examples of why bringing parents into farm to school programs works. Many non-profit organizations also give nutrition and cooking classes to parents in a way that is consistent with farm to school ideas.
Here are some programs with resources on how to effectively teach parents, from cooking to shopping.
Destination Dinner Table is a program of Generation Healthy Kids in Springfield, IL. From their website: “During this one and a half hour program, parents work in the kitchen alongside one of genHkids’ chefs, learning to prepare a nutritious, from-scratch meal quickly and easily. Meanwhile, genHkids’ staff and volunteers work with children, teaching them to set the table, working on basic etiquette, playing nutrition games and participating in Brain Breaks. When the meal is ready, all participants sit down to eat together family style. At the program’s conclusion, parents leave with important nutritional information, a weekly menu and shopping guide, and a sense of accomplishment and increased confidence in their ability to cook at home.”
Cooking Matters provides free resources, including lesson plans for all ages, recipes, handouts, and more, for those in the community who want to provide food education to families. Cooking Matters also offers hands on cooking classes taught by trained professionals for groups all over the country.
Does your organization offer free programming to parents of school children in farm to school programs? Contact the IFSN to get on this list.