Farm-to-School is broadly defined as any program that connects schools and local farms by serving healthy meals in school cafeterias, improving student nutrition, providing agriculture, health and nutrition education opportunities, and supporting local and regional farmers.
Communities across the country implement “Farm-to-School” in different ways. In Dubuque initiatives have included the following:
LOCAL PROCUREMENT DURING OCTOBER: NATIONAL FARM TO SCHOOL MONTH
In 2015 with support from ISU Extension & Outreach, Dubuque Community School District participated in Farm to School Month for the first time, serving over 8,000 students at all elementary schools, middle schools and high schools fresh peppers, apples, melon, and carrots sourced from farms located within 150 miles of Dubuque though Iowa Food Hub.
This year, both DCSD and West Dubuque School District will expand local procurement, incorporating fresh produce into school lunch for the entire month of October!
Come see where your school lunch comes from on the 2016 Farm Crawl! Tree of Life Farm at Sinsinawa Mound, Two Onion, and Honey Hill Organic Farm and Apiary are just three of the featured farms growing veggies for farm to school month this October.
FARM FIELD TRIPS
Field trips to farms help challenge many children’s belief that milk comes from a carton and cereal comes from a box – something even those from rural areas struggle with. Dubuque Rescue Mission’s close proximity to downtown schools creates opportunities for classes to take field trips to see where fruits & vegetables come from with relative ease for teachers. Check out this video of Prescott Elementary Students helping prepare lunch for one of the Mission’s free meals using produce harvested from the downtown Community Farm!
School gardens offer opportunities for fun and physical activity while serving as an important educational tool to help students understand how healthy food is produced. With the help of ISU Extension’s School Gardens 101, five new school gardens have been established in Dubuque in the past 2 years including at Sageville, Alternative Learning Center, NICC, Hempstead, and Jefferson Junior High.
School Garden 101 is a five-week training course held through Dubuque County ISU Extension each March that helps school teachers, faculty, and community volunteers build a strong team for a successful school garden. School teams of three or more develop basic horticultural skills, while receiving continuing education credits and training on research based curriculum to tie gardening activities to school standards. Throughout the workshop series, attendees work in teams to develop their goals, timeline, garden plan, and budget. Upon completion, schools are shovel-ready to create or rebuild their schools garden!