GETTING LOCAL FOODS INTO SCHOOLS has benefits that go beyond the lunch tray. When students learn about their foods in the classroom, grow them in the school garden, and taste them in the cafeteria, they are more likely to make healthy choices at home and develop long-lasting nutrition habits. And, when schools invest their food dollars in the local economy, farmers, businesses, and the community all benefit.
Local Food Hub serves more than 70 public schools in eight districts, as well as private schools and universities. Over 40% of students in public schools qualify for free or reduced price meals, and many students rely on school food for their primary source of nutrition. Through snack programs, after-school and summer programs, and the National School Lunch Program, Local Food Hub provides access to farm sourced food for everyone.
Virginia Farm to School Week, organized by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, provides an opportunity for schools and partnering organizations to highlight efforts that are taking place throughout the year to source more school foods locally, and to provide educational activities to students that emphasize food, farming, and nutrition. These efforts have benefits that reach beyond the cafeteria since they make a lasting impact on the health and eating habits of the next generation, and farmers benefit from increased market opportunities now and into the future. The week is generally celebrated during the first full week of October.
Local Food Hub works closely with area school partners to develop exciting menus for Farm to School Week, and to organize enriching educational opportunities for students, such as taste tests, meet-the-farmer visits, and gardening activities.