Are farm-to-school programs proving successful and popular in more ways than one?
According to the USDA, farm-to-school programs are a growing trend, and having nothing but good results.
Recent statistics released by the USDA showed that at least 42,000 schools spent almost $600 million on local food during the 2013-2014 school year. That's up almost 50 percent from the last census on this, from two years ago.
Furthermore, the schools who participated reported that when they served local food, their kids ate healthier meals and threw less in the trash.
In a recent press release, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said "Farm to school is one of many tactics and resources that USDA makes available to help schools successfully serve healthier meals to kids. Farm-to-school partnerships have a proven track record of encouraging kids to try, like, and eat more healthy foods and creating new market opportunities for the farmers that grow them."
Among the general positive benefits of these farm-to-school programs were such things as: reduced plate waste, improved acceptance of the healthier school meals, increased participation in school meals programs, lower cost of meal programs, increased support from and involvement parents and community members.
This seems to be another indication that when kids are involved, educated and invested in what they are eating, there can be success when it comes to eating well.
Supermarkets should also look to explore ways they can involve kids. Whether its targeted displays and promotions or even monthly events designed towards kids and allowing them to try, cook with and learn about healthy produce – retailers should be looking for ways to engage the younger generation.