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Farm-to-School Possibilities, Practicalities, and Policy


Farm-to-School Possibilities, Practicalities, and Policy Jennifer Wilkins Division of Nutritional Sciences Cornell University SARE s 20th Anniversary – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Farm-to-School Possibilities, Practicalities, and Policy

Farm-to-School Possibilities, Practicalities,
and Policy
  • Jennifer Wilkins
  • Division of Nutritional Sciences
  • Cornell University

SAREs 20th Anniversary New American Farm
Conference  Advancing the Frontier of Sustainable
Agriculture March 25-27, 2008 Kansas City, MO
Presentation Overview
  • What is Farm to Cafeteria?
  • Who Benefits?
  • Why and Why now?
  • Challenges
  • Policy Opportunities

What is Farm to School?
  • the ability to connect schools with local and
    regional farmers to benefit both..
  • A portion of the food served in school meals is
    purchased directly from local farmers
  • Schools become a new market
  • New relationships between food service, farmers,
    distributors, processors
  • Integration between food service, classroom
    education, school gardens, student farms

Vallianatos, Gottlieb, and Haase. 2004.
What is Farm to School?
  • Immediate focus Health, Nutrition, and Diet
  • Importance of FTS extends to a wide range of
    other issues
  • Farm Viability - small, mid-size family farms
  • Farmland preservation
  • Urban sprawl
  • A Food Systems Approach counter to
  • Food from anywhere any time
  • Highly processed
  • Concentration, Consolidation, Specialization

Farm to School Goal
  • Increase amount of food schools procure from
    local, regional farms
  • Can take a variety of forms
  • Salad bars
  • Seasonal variety
  • Value-added
  • Fruits and vegetable snacks
  • Can involve classroom education, school gardens,
    farm field trips, farmer visits

Who Benefits?
  • Farmers
  • Increased sales to nearby schools
  • New markets
  • Students and Staff
  • Access to fresh local fruits vegetables
  • Schools Healthier environment
  • Improve diets, Lower chronic disease risk
  • Improved academic performance
  • Communities Economically, socially, culturally

Why Farm to Cafeteria?
Why Now?
Child Health Crisis
  • As we look to the future and where childhood
    obesity will be in 20 yearsit is every bit as
    threatening to us as the terrorist threat we face
    today. It is the threat from within.
  • US Surgeon General Richard Carmona TIME/ABC
    Obesity Summit June 2004

Childhood Obesity
  • Prevalence of overweight
  • children aged 25 increased from 5.0 to 13.9
  • children aged 6 to 11 more than doubled 7 in
    1980 to 19 in 2004
  • adolescents aged 12 to 19 more than tripled 5
    to gt17
  • Overweight youth are more likely to become
    overweight or obese adults
  • at greater risk for adult health problems

National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention
and Health Promotion (CDC) Healthy Youth Health
Topics Childhood Overweight. http//
Obesity Among U.S. Adults
Obesity BMI ?30, or about 30 lbs. overweight for
54 person
No Data lt10
1014 1519 2024
2529 30
DHHS Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and
Health Promotion. U.S. Obesity Trends
(No Transcript)
Hefty National Price Tag
  • Health care expenditures related to obesity 98
    billion to 117 billion annually
  • Taxpayers paying an increasingly large share
    through Medicare and Medicaid
  • Prediction children of this generation may be
    the first to be less healthy and have a shorter
    life span than their parents

Institute of Medicine Preventing Childhood
Obesity Health in the Balance Sept. 2004.
U.S. Diet Room for Improvement
  • lt 25 of US adults consume 5 servings of fruits
    and vegetables per day 1
  • Only 2 of children eat a healthy diet 2
  • lt 15 of elementary school-age children eat five
    servings of fruits and vegetables a day 3
  • 3 out of 4 high school students do not eat 5
    servings of fruits and vegetables 3
  • Diet factor in leading causes of death 4

1 Cserdula et al. AJPH, June 2004, 94(6)
10141018, 2 Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.
Childrens Diets in the Mid-1990s.
2001.NCHS/USDHHS. 4 Grunbaum, et al. 2002.
Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance U.S., 2001 4
CDC/USDHHS Profiling Leading Causes of Death in
the U.S. Chronic Diseases. Nov 30, 2005.
High Intake of high-calorie, low-nutrient Foods
  • HANES 1
  • Soft Drinks 1 energy contributor (7.1)
  • Top 10 Foods Soft drinks, cakes, hamburgers,
    pizza, etc. (32.4)
  • Soda intake 576 12-oz servings (53 gallons) per
    year 2

1Block, G. J Food Comp Analysis. 2004 2 Center
for Science in the Public Interest. 2005. Liquid
Healthy Foods Cost More
Graph source Food without Thought How U.S. Farm
Policy Contributes to Obesity IATP, 2006
Junk Food A Real Deal
  • Calorie-dense foods composed of refined grains,
    added sugars, or fats
  • represented some of the lowest-cost options and
    provided dietary energy at minimal cost.
  • Poverty and food insecurity are associated with
    lower food expenditures, low fruit and vegetable
    consumption, and otherwise lower-quality

Drewnowski, A. and Specter, SE. AJCN, 79(1)6-16.
Why Farm to School?
  • Focus on fruits, vegetables, whole foods and
  • FTS projects see
  • Decrease in Vending sales of calorie dense
    low-nutrient options
  • School gardens offer physical activity
  • Greater acceptance of wide variety of fruits and
  • Establish healthful eating habits

Role of Schools in Child Health
  • Schools have significant influencing power
  • Lifelong habits and preferences
  • Feeding programs in place
  • Link to parents and community
  • Increasing evidence that both nutrition and
    activity linked to achievement
  • Children consume a wider variety of foods through
    school meals a

a Wolfe. Child Nutritional Health and the
Elementary School Environment
Viability of Family Farms
  • 1.2 million acres of farmland are lost every year
    2 acres a minute
  • Farmers gt 65 outnumber those lt 35 gt21
  • Number of farmers making a reasonable living and
    stay on farm declining
  • Farm prices chronically low market controlled
    by agribusinesses and retail food industry
  • Farmers share of food dollar
  • gt30 (1980) to 19 (2002)

What if we followed the Dietary Guidelines?
Source USDA, Economic Research Service. 2This
is the total acreage adjustment needed to meet
both the whole-grain and the total-grain
recommendations. 3Not applicabledairy is not
measured in terms of crop acreage. 4This analysis
did not cover meat, added fats and oils, and
caloric sweeteners.
Schools Potentially Huge Market for Farmers
  • 25.4 Million school lunches/day
  • Public School Districts 14,559 (94,112 K-12
    public schools)
  • All K-12 schools 133,362 (includes charter,
    catholic, private)
  • Elementary 95,201
  • Secondary 38,161
  • Total K-12 enrollment 51,610,806
  • Elementary 36,168,631
  • Secondary 13,989,239
  • Combined 1,452,937

National School Lunch Program Reimbursement
COST to Child FEDERAL SUPPORT (2007-2008) NYS SUPPORT (2007-2008)
Free 2.47-2.49 .065
Reduced 2.07-2.09 .215
Paid .23-.25 .065
(Federal reimbursement for snacks free .60,
reduced .30, paid .05. Note programs operating
in areas where at least 50 of kids are eligible
for F or RP meals, can serve all snacks free and
be reimbursed.)
Value of Federal Reimbursements - NY
  • Schools Participating in National Breakfast
    Program 5,160
  • Value 110,937,922
  • Schools Participating in National Lunch Program
  • Value 456,243,991
  • Nationally Billions

Peak Oil
  • The point at which we have extracted half of all
    oil that has ever existed in the world
  • the half that was
  • the easiest to get
  • the most economically obtained
  • highest quality
  • cheapest to refine

Kunstler, The Long Emergency, 2005
Peak Oil and Food
  • The crisis in agriculture will be one of the
    defining conditions. We will simply have to grow
    more of our food locally. The crisis will present
    itself when industrial farming , dependent on
    massive oil and gas inputs at gigantic scales
    of operation, can no longer be carried on

Kunstler, The Long Emergency, 2005
Food Miles
  • Distance food travels from where it is grown or
    raised to where it is ultimately purchased by the
    consumer or end-user.
  • Global Market 1500 miles
  • Local Market 50 miles

R. Pirog, A. Benjamin, Leopold Center for
Sustainable Agriculture, Ames, IA, 2003.
Food Miles
  • Local Global
  • Apple 61 miles 1726 miles
  • Spinach 36 miles 1800 miles

  • Dependence on Commodities
  • Competitive Foods
  • Vending sales
  • Cut costs labor
  • Off-site Management

School Food Service Realities
  • Food service is financially independent
  • General fund cannot be used for school meals
  • The higher the rate of free and reduced lunches
    the greater the budget
  • From 10 - 20 of food costs may be subsidized by
    use of Commodity Foods

Dollars and Cents What does Lunch Money pay for?
  • Full-price lunch 1.75 Elementary, 1.90 High
    School (2.15 with reimbursements)
  • Free lunch School receives 2.55 (Fed State)
  • Half goes to labor and benefits
  • 60 goes to the center of the plate (protein)
  • 20 for milk
  • Leaves 50 for bread, fruit, and vegetable
  • But also need 5 left for repairs,
  • cleaning supplies, utensils, trays,
  • straws, etc.

More Challenges
  • Harvest calendar vs. school year
  • Packing, grading, handling, and processing
  • Payment usually 30 - 90 days after delivery
  • Deliveries can be frequent, consistency expected
  • Distribution
  • Potentially very large sales volume
  • Low Profit Margins

Policy School Level Strategies
  • Menus and Recipes
  • Power and control is at the food service level
  • Food Skills
  • Increase standard for training and education
  • Wellness Policies
  • Include local food language
  • Infrastructure
  • Kitchen facilities, equipment, cafeteria
    environment, space for gardens
  • Procurement and Distribution
  • Specifications - local, regionally sourced,
    production method, seasonal products

State Federal Level Policy
  • State policies
  • Farm to School support
  • Increase State reimbursement rates
  • School infrastructure - kitchen facilities
  • National
  • Nutrition standards
  • Production standards for food served in schools
  • Federal Reimbursement
  • Expand fruit and vegetable snack program
  • Restrictions on geographic preference

Example New York Farm to School Law 2002
  • To facilitate and promote the purchase of NYS
    farm products by schools, universities and other
    educational institutions.
  • Ag and Markets and Education departments should
    work with each other
  • Sharing information products, volume, packaging,
    prices, seasonality, recipes, menus
  • Coordination, Cooperation Communication
  • Formalized Harvest for New York Kids Week

Example 2004 Law Allowing Direct Purchases
  • General Municipal Law Permitting Direct
    Purchases by Schools of Local Farm Products
    Without Competitive Bids (2004)
  • Amendment of existing law
  • Little known, confusing, cumbersome process
  • Response to school districts, farm groups,
    academia and food businesses
  • Goal make it easier for schools and farmers to
    do business

  • All amendments come
  • under question because of uncertainty
  • over Farm Bill language and USDA
  • regulations which prohibit
  • stating geographic preference.
  • The farm to school program across the U.S. could
    benefit from a change in the federal language.

Procurement Strategies
  • Cant specify on geography
  • Can specify on
  • Quality
  • Freshness - time from harvest to school delivery
  • Variety
  • Through specifications, may increase use of NY
    grown foods Empire apples.

The 5 cent bill
  • Title An Act to amend the education law, in
    relation to establishing the fresh fruit and
    vegetable program
  • Promote increased consumption of fresh fruits and
  • Maximize procurement of NYS grown product
  • Mechanism an addition 5 cents per meal served
    for the purchase of fresh fruits and vegetables.

The 5 cent Bill
  • The department shall establish a fresh fruit and
    vegetable program providing payments for the
    purchase of fresh or minimally processed fruits
    and vegetables.
  • Such fruits and vegetables, to the maximum
    extent practicable and in accordance with federal
    and state statutes and rules and regulations,
    shall be grown and produced in New York state.

The 5 cent Bill
  • The program would promote increased consumption
    of fresh fruits and vegetables by students and
    maximize the procurement of New York State grown
    produce. These offerings are particularly
    important to children's health given the alarming
    rate of childhood obesity in our society. The
    program would promote healthy food choices.

Related Policy Approaches
  • Land trust purchases
  • Habitat protection
  • Subsidy reform
  • Urban Growth boundaries
  • Purchase/Transfer Development Rights
  • Property Tax relief
  • Compensation to Farmers
  • Agriculture Districts
  • Incentivizing Food Assistance Benefits

Importance of School Food
the school meal is at the forefront of the
debate about the health of our young people a
prism through which we can examine some of the
larger questions that face us today.
Kevin Morgan, Cardiff University, Wales
Thank You.