RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. —A recent article published in the Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development (JAFSCD) by researchers out of organizations including RTI International, a non-profit research institute, and the National Farm-to-School Network, evaluated Oregon’s Farm-to-School policy. The policy, aimed at procuring local foods for school meals and providing educational opportunities related to agriculture, was based on results collected over two years.
Results from the study show that adapting and implementing similar programs nationwide could be a successful tool for increasing program participation among low-income school districts with high minority populations. Researchers studied differences between high-and low-income school districts in Oregon who chose to opt-in to receiving procurement funds for purchasing local food products.
“The program has been successful at reducing barriers for low-income districts and providing opportunities for children to participate in farm-to-school,” said Kristen Giombi, Ph.D, a Research Economist at RTI. “The opt-in policy also increased the local food purchased in these districts which is giving back to the local community in return.”
The number of minority students attending a low-income school district participating in the farm to school program nearly doubled and under the opt-in program, 89% of children eligible for free and/or reduced-price meals attended schools in districts participating in the program.
Several studies have also indicated that farm to school programs provide a chance for students to experience local food in school meals, increase knowledge of agriculture through educational activities and increase overall consumption of fruits and vegetables.
Evaluating farm-to-school state policy and implementation changes such as those that took place in Oregon can help guide the development of more robust and effective state and local farm to school policies in Oregon and elsewhere. To read more, visit JAFSCD.