Conference to Focus on Farm-to-School, Community Issues
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Farmers, ranchers, school administrators, educators, students and community leaders from the Midwest will gather in Nebraska City, Neb., on March 2 for the Midwest Farm to School Conference.
Sarah Smith, farm to school lead worker with the Center for Rural Affairs, says making these connections can increase healthy food opportunities available to students.
“Kids being able to have access to healthy food means that they’ve got better academic chances, they have a decrease in behavioral issues, there’s a huge opportunity to expand markets for growers,” she states. “We’re trying to build these connections so that the opportunities can continue.”
A coalition from Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska and Kansas is organizing the conference, but it is open to anyone.
Those attending should get an idea of what projects will work in their specific community situation.
“What you see with these efforts is that one size doesn’t really fit all, and so you have an opportunity to look at what are your assets, what are you working with, and what small steps forward can you take,” Smith points out.
It may be as direct as food service workers developing recipes with local food, teachers incorporating a garden within their lesson plan or farmers producing the food products their specific schools need.
Smith says the multi-state aspect of the conference is unique, and involves a coalition of a number of private and public entities.
“Lots of different state organizations are involved with farm to school efforts,” she stresses. “Department of Agriculture, Department of Education, university extension and nonprofits like the Center for Rural Affairs.”
Early bird registration for the Midwest Farm to School Conference ends Monday.