Increasing Local Procurement in Farm to School Programs: An Exploratory Investigation
AbstractFarm-to-school (FTS) programs have become more widely adopted in recent years because of their potential to mitigate childhood obesity, as well as their economic development and educational benefits. As a result of FTS programs' diverse purposes and grassroots nature, the types of activities they encompass vary considerably from program to program and no systematic measures of impact have emerged. Furthermore, FTS programs launched in colder climate regions may be particularly challenging due to a shorter growing season and narrower range and volume of available products. In this exploratory study, we set out to learn more about the factors that lead to increased procurement of local food in FTS programs. To do this we analyze the results of three recent studies of the impact of FTS programming on school purchases of locally produced foods in Vermont, conducted in 2012 and 2013. The results of a census of FTS programs in Vermont and an evaluation of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Snacks program indicate that price subsidies do not necessarily increase local food procurement in Vermont, while a study of FTS programs working with food hubs in Vermont suggests that social capital in the form of viable partnerships and relationship-building holds promise for increasing the procurement of local food. Implications for FTS programming and future research are discussed.
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