As a Core Partner for the National Farm to School Network, Farm Fresh Rhode Island supports farm to school and farm to early care and education efforts in Rhode Island while serving as a liaison for information, resources, needs, and opportunities from the state with the National Farm to School Network.
Farm to school empowers children and their families to make informed food choices while strengthening the local economy and contributing to vibrant communities. Food, nutrition, and agriculture education are major components of the program and key to farm to school success. School gardens, cooking lessons, taste tests, and farm visits are just a few of the many farm to school practices. Helping students build a relationship with their food encourages them to make healthy choices.
October is Farm to School Month
Governor Gina Raimondo has signed an official proclamation declaring October as Farm to School Month in Rhode Island. This is in alignment with National Farm to School Month, designated by Congress in 2010, as an annual celebration of food education, school gardens, and lunch trays filled with nutritious, local ingredients.
“I am so pleased to celebrate Rhode Island Farm to School Month. Connecting kids to healthful, local food while also supporting our local agriculture and food economy is a win-win for the State,” said the State Director of Food Policy, Sue Anderbois. “This work is just part of the fabric of who Rhode Island is. A big thank you to Farm Fresh Rhode Island, our schools, and so many other partners who work so hard to make these initiatives successful.”
To celebrate Farm to School Month, schools across the state are hosting events to bring awareness to Farm to School work in Rhode Island and highlight the connection between local farmers, eaters, and food literacy. Providence Public School District is gearing up for the Great Apple Crunch Day, a day-long celebration of Rhode Island grown apples. Anderbois will be in Providence TODAY, October 12, at an Apple Crunch event at Lima Elementary School to read the governor’s proclamation and congratulate the district for its continued commitment to supporting local farmers.
Schools and districts can participate in Apple Crunch Day by purchasing and serving Rhode Island grown apples in their meal programs and by “crunching” into apples together as a way to bring awareness to fresh, local produce. Pell Elementary School in Newport is also hosting school-wide Apple Crunch festivities on October 27. For the past several years, Pell Elementary has celebrated its commitment to Farm to School by hosting an Apple Crunch to bring awareness to the importance of fresh, healthy, and local food in school meals.
“Our RI Farm to School program provides great opportunities for local farmers to have access to institutional markets and expand their operations to help meet the needs of the community,” said Thea Upham, Community Access Program Director at Farm Fresh Rhode Island. “When school kids are the recipients of fresh, local foods, they are more likely to eat meals at school and actually enjoy them.”
The RI Farm to School program is part of a much larger landscape of nutrition education, food access, and market-building programs operated by Farm Fresh RI. The program enriches the connection communities have to fresh, local food and empowers youth to think critically about the food they eat, to learn about nearby farms and how food is produced, and to taste for themselves that nutritious, fresh foods can be super delicious. Find RI Farm to School on Facebook and Instagram: @RIfarmtoschool