Farm to School Central Coast Celebrates “National Farm to School Month”
The program connects local farmers with school districts to increase student access to fresh local produce and support the local agricultural economy
– The Farm to School Central Coast program will celebrate National Farm to School Month in October. The program focuses on buying local produce for school lunches and student education and has connected fourteen local farms to seven school districts from Santa Maria to San Miguel since November 2020.
In an effort to educate students about where their food is grown and raised, the Farm to School Central Coast program will host several Meet the Farmer events in October in Templeton Unified School District, San Miguel Co-ed School District and the San Luis Coastal Unified School. District.
The activities invite farmers who sell produce to the districts to come meet the students, talk to them about farming and encourage them to try new produce – like raspberries, limes and jujubes. When asked what students thought after tasting gummies for the first time last year, one Cappy Culver Elementary student replied, “If I had to give it a grade, I’d give it a 9 out of 10. . »
The Farm to School program expanded in November 2020 after Slow Money SLO received funding through a partnership with the SLO Food Bank, which received a Specialty Crops Block Grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Agriculture (USDA) from the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) to increase demand. for specialty crops fruits and vegetables while improving the health of underserved Central Coast communities through SLO Food Bank nutrition education and expanding specialty crop offerings in area school districts.
With this grant, students learned about and tasted raspberries, strawberries, tangerines, cherry tomatoes, kiwis and more in their school cafeterias and/or at Meet the Farmer activities.
As part of its mission, Slow Money SLO supports local small and medium-sized farms through promotion and advertising, and by connecting farms to institutional buyers. Farmers who wish to sell produce in larger volumes to local buyers often find it difficult to make these initial connections, but with the support and infrastructure developed by this program, they have found schools to be a good choice.
“I started delivery to School San Miguel, Paso Robles and San Luis Coastal. We really appreciate Farm to School Central Coast, it has helped our business tremendously,” said Jacinto Bautista, Manager of Bautista Family Farm.
In October, students at Meet the Farmer activities can expect to try rare apple varieties, limes and more.