The Willamette Farm and Food Coalition is actively educating Lane County kids and families about where their food comes from, providing resources to access fresh, locally grown foods, and working to incorporate locally grown produce into the meals served in our schools.
THE GOALS OF WFFC’S FARM TO SCHOOL PROGRAM
The Willamette Farm and Food Coalition’s Farm to School Program began in January 2007, in two rural schools in the Crow Applegate Lorane District. Soon after the program shifted focus from rural to urban schools, where we felt the need for farm and garden based education was greater. We also saw a greater need in schools with a high percentage of students in poverty, who often didn’t have enough food at home and wouldn’t otherwise have the experience of visiting a farm or being outside in the garden. By Fall 2011 we shifted focus to serving schools with a high percentage of students in poverty focusing on Chavez, River Road, Fairfield and Guy Lee Elementary schools. We began to realize that our education program was getting kids excited about healthy, locally grown foods, but that it wasn’t transferring to different choices at home. So in Spring 2011, we initiated our family program, to provide families at these schools with more exposure and access to healthy, locally grown foods. Since 2007, WFFC’s Farm to School Program has provided its comprehensive farm to school education program to over 2500 students in 15 schools in 5 districts.
We provide a comprehensive educational program to third through fifth grade students in the Bethel, Eugene 4J, and Springfield School Districts. We work with the schools in the Eugene/Springfield area which have the highest percentage of students in poverty. Many of the students we serve don’t have access to adequate food at home and don’t have exposure to farms or gardens. Students we serve participate in the following activities:
Farm Field Trips
Students visit local farms and have the opportunity to taste fresh produce in the field, help with a farm task, and harvest produce to bring back to school.
Food Preparation Activity
Students prepare a snack or meal together with food they harvested on their farm field trip. They also receive seeds to take home and resources for their families to access locally grown foods, including coupons to use at local farmers markets and farm stands, information about using SNAP benefits at local markets, and family newsletters encouraging consumption of Oregon-grown fruits and vegetables.
Students help to plant, tend and harvest vegetables. These activities are implemented in collaboration with The School Garden Project of Lane County.
During lunch time in the cafeteria students visit our special Tasting Table offering samples of fresh locally grown fruits or vegetables from near-by farms. After these events they also receive samples to take home and resources for their families to access locally grown foods.
Watch a video of third graders from Guy Lee Elementary in Springfield, visit the FOOD for Lane County Youth Farm. (Clip begins with an advertisement).
A visit to the Food for Lane County Youth Farm, Bethel School District’s Oregon Harvest Day Lunch at Prairie Mountain School, and school garden sessions at River Road:
In this video, students from River Road/El Camino del Rio visit the Small Farmers Project and Thistledown Farm:
Local songwriter, John Pitney, has created a great song for WFFC’s Farm to School Program, sharing experiences of students who have participated over the years. The song was sung by fifth graders at River Road/El Camino del Rio Elementary School in Eugene. Listen and follow along with the lyrics!
Through our family outreach efforts we are increasing low-income families exposure and access to fresh, locally grown foods. After farm field trips and tasting tables, students receive:
Farm to School volunteers play an important role in educating students and families about where our food comes from and assist with all aspects of our education and family outreach programing. They help lead education and family outreach activities, provide student supervision, prepare for activities by chopping and prepping fruits and veggies, and help with cleanup/wrap up after activities. Activities are often during the school day.
Volunteer Training: A brief training is mandatory for all volunteers and interns. If you would like to receive more information about our next available training, please email or call our office for more details. Please contact Taylor Larson, Education Coordinator, at 541-246-1610 or farmtoschoolstaff(at)lanefood.org.
We support school districts in Lane County in their efforts to increase the amount of locally grown and processed food served in school meals and snacks.
During the 2014-15 school year Lane County schools purchased Lane County grown and processed products valued at $465,142 including 71,627 pounds of produce from Lane County farms.
Also in the 2014-15 school year, these same schools purchased Oregon-grown and processed products valued at $1.2 million.
To read a full report click here.
Information for Farmers:
There is an opportunity to get the food that you grow into the mouths of school children in Lane County! It’s not easy or hugely profitable, but it can be a new market for your crops and help connect kids with the source of their food.
Here is document to help you get started, if you are interested. Click here.
The USDA released their 2015 Farm to School census recently. Look at the great work happening in Oregon! We are so lucky to be in a state which a leader in the farm to school movement nationally!
Willamette Farm and Food Coalition serves as Oregon State Lead Agency for the National Farm to School Program, providing technical assistance and support to Farm to School program all over Oregon! Our Farm to School Program Director also serves as the Managing Director for the Oregon Farm to School and School Garden Network (OFSSGN), a growing network of over 700 farm to school stakeholders from around Oregon. In July 2015, the OFSSGN celebrated success when the Oregon State Legislature allocated $4.5 million to school districts for purchases of Oregon-grown and processed foods, and for food and agriculture based educational activities! 13 school districts in Lane County are benefitting from this funding.
When you buy Farm to School Fuji apples at participating retailers in the Eugene area including Kiva, Friendly Street Market, Sundance, Capella, Red Barn, and New Frontier, profits from the sale will support the Willamette Farm and Food Coalition's Farm to School Program!
The Farm to School Program is an AmeriCorps program.
MAKE A CONTRIBUTION!
Become a donating member of the Willamette Farm and Food Coalition.
Contribute online through PayPal by clicking below (please indicate Farm to School Program)
Or mail your contributions to:
Willamette Farm and Food Coalition
P.O. Box 41672
Eugene, OR 97404-0389
Please make checks payable to WFFC and put "Farm to School Program" on the memo line.
WFFC is a 501c(3) organization and we will send you a receipt for tax purposes.
FARM TO SCHOOL RESOURCE LINKS: