Over 5 billion school lunches were served last school year. 65% of children who eat those school lunches rely on the free or reduced price meals subsided by the USDA, making the National School Lunch Program one of the largest anti-hunger programs of the federal government. Through Farm to School programs, CAFF believes we can address childhood obesity and hunger while simultaneously connecting local growers to institutional markets.
CAFF has long supported greater linkages between sustainable farming and nutritious foods. That’s why we work around the state to promote Farm to School programs that bring fresh produce directly from local farmers to local schools: it’s good for our farmers and good for our kids. Policy work is key to lowering barriers in getting local produce onto school menus and creating long-term institutional change. CAFF works on Farm to School policy at the local, state, and national levels.
School Wellness Councils
CAFF also has a long history of assisting districts with the creation and leadership of school wellness councils. The Childhood Nutrition Reauthorization Bill passed in 2004 mandated that each school district participating in the National School Lunch Program had to form a Wellness Council that would create a Wellness Policy for the entire school district. This policy governs the health and wellness of students from the cafeteria to physical activity to candy sales. We continue to work on shaping policies on all levels that will help Farm to School flourish in California.
California Farm to School Taskforce
CAFF, in partnership with the Urban and Environmental Policy Institute, co-coordinates the California Farm to School Taskforce. Comprised of practitioners (food service directors, farmers, and advocates) and representatives from state and federal agencies, the Taskforce works across sectors to promote and increase Farm to School programs in California. The Taskforce is divided into 3 working groups: membership, communications, and policy/advocacy. The policy/advocacy working group is currently researching opportunities for lowering barriers to farm to school in California. Visit www.cafarmtoschool.org for more information.