The National Farm to School Network connects communities in the United States that bring food and farming education into schools. A grass-roots movement, it is powered by those who believe that all students deserve equal access to healthy, local food as well as opportunities to learn about where their food comes from.

With one in three children in the United States considered overweight or obese, it’s critical that children have the necessary tools to make the best choices for their health later in life. As well as giving children access to high quality local food, the network supports activities and projects such as school gardens, cooking lessons and farm field trips. But these are not the only benefits: farm-to-school programmes also support local farmers by opening the doors to a new market and help to build stronger communities by strengthening the local economy and bringing people together around food.

The Farm to School Network operates in all 50 US states with a dedicated leader for each area. It also provides resources and policy information specific to each state. The resources cover a wide range of topics such as school gardens, nutritional education, hunger and food justice, which can be filtered by settings – for example, in school, after school, on the farm or institutions such as colleges and hospitals.

Alongside the resources, the network runs projects, which include focusing on younger children and native communities that support their overall aims. In June 2016, it will be hosting a conference to bring together a diverse group of stakeholders from the farm-to-cafeteria movement. These stakeholders are working to source local food for institutional cafeterias and foster a culture of food and agricultural literacy across the United States.

The network currently boasts more than 12,000 members who are passionate about expanding farm to school initiatives across the country. If you would like to join the movement, sign up here.

Photograph: USDA

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