IN THIS ISSUE: The Wellbeing of Its Children: The Ultimate Expression of a Nation’s Wealth
It seems like just yesterday that I attended a very early farm-to-school workshop in the mid-ʼ90s at a national conference. I don’t remember the name of the conference or where it took place, but I vividly recall the animated discourse that included expressions of frustration in navigating the National School Lunch and Department of Defense’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable program protocols. I also heard the kernels of clever strategy being formulated in a handful of schools around the country to get fresh local farm products into their cafeterias. Back in those early days, things sure were complicated—but also exciting.
The U.S. has come a long way since then. With federal and foundation support, the National Farm to School Network is thriving, and nearly half of all U.S. schools purchase at least small amounts of local farm products. The U.S. is also sprouting farm-to-college, farm-to-prison, farm-to-hospital, and now farm-tochildcare programs. This 20-year trend in direct wholesaling to sympathetic local institutions was a logical
maturation of the food movement that began with the resurgence of farmers markets in the late 1970s and the advent of community supported agriculture operations (CSAs) in the 1980s. And one might argue that food hubs were a natural next response to the challenges of meeting the needs of institutions—that is, the small-scale wholesaling established by intrepid farm-to-school organizers.
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