News Release -- Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets
Oct. 27, 2014
Ali Zipparo, VAAFM Farm to School Administrator
More than 89% of VT Schools Offer Farm to School Programming
October is National Farm to School month, and Vermont has much to celebrate.
Vermont is a national leader in the Farm to School movement. More than 89% of Vermont schools report that they participate in Farm to School programming, according to the USDA’s Farm to School census. Programs vary depending on the district, but each incorporates the 3 C’s of Farm to School engagement: classroom, community, and cafeteria.
In 2006, the Vermont state legislature created a grant program that would provide schools with seed funding to plan and implement Farm to School Programs. Since then, the state has appropriated nearly $775,000 to support Farm to School programming. In the past eight years, 70 schools or supervisory unions throughout the state have received Farm to School grants.
“Farm to School programming helps build a culture of ‘Ag Literacy’ in our schools and communities,” according to Vermont Secretary of Agriculture, Chuck Ross. “These programs are an essential part of building the connection between agriculture and the next generation of Vermonters, while also teaching our students to make healthy choices and ensuring food access for all.”
“Farm to school enriches the connection communities have with fresh, healthy food and local food producers by changing food purchasing and education practices at schools and preschools,” according to Ali Zipparo, the Agency of Ag’s Farm to School Administrator. “Students gain access to healthy, local foods as well as educational opportunities such as school gardens, cooking lessons and farm field trips.”
Throughout the month, Agency of Ag officials participated in Farm to School celebrations in classrooms, cafeterias, and school gardens across the state. Deputy Secretary LaClair joined the Washington County school community on October 2 at Montpelier High School to kick off the month and celebrate the county’s achievement of creating a garden in every school.
In addition to attending events in classrooms and cafeterias across the state, the Agency hosted USDA Farm to School Program Northeast Regional Coordinator, Danielle Fleury, on a tour of Burlington and Milton school food service programs, and the Vermont Food Venture Center in Hardwick.
On Thursday, October 30th at 6pm Secretary Chuck Ross is scheduled to attend the Harvest Festival at Hunt Middle School in Burlington, bookending the month-long Farm to School celebration.
The 2015 Farm to School Grant Program application window closes tomorrow, Oct. 28th. Details can be found on VAAFM’s website, under the Grants tab, at www.vermontagriculture.com.
If you have questions about the grant program or how VAAFM can help support Farm to School efforts, please email Ali Zipparo at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 802-505-1822.