On Friday December 7, our host Jonathan Zarov speaks about the Farm to School program, aimed at making it easier for Wisconsin public schools to serve locally grown produce to students. Sara Tedeschi, a specialist at the Wisconsin Farm to School Program and works for the Center for Integrated Agriculture Systems at the state level, and Sarah Elliott, from the REAP Program, speak with Jonathan about the program. There is a growing problem with being able to serve schools produce that was grown locally.
Sara explains why this is, “I think it’s another symptom of globalized food system that we have today. Institutional food service settings are very much part of that long-distance network in terms of where that food is coming from…these are pretty low priced buyers as things have evolved, schools including. Schools don’t really get a chance to participate in that food system outside of that larger infrastructure.”
The Wisconsin Farm to School program has received growing attention and support across the state, with support extending from the schools, medical and public health, agriculture, and transportation sectors, ”We’re seeing a great synergy coming around this issue to help make it happen. It’s not necessarily easier to make it happen, but definitely much broader agreement in working it out.”
Sarah focuses on Madison: “This past year, the school district has really made some amazing leaps towards bringing local foods into its school meal program…” As a result of a pilot program this October, in honor of National Farm to School Month, four different elementary schools in the district have been provided with salad bars to have at lunch. Now, the school district is planning to apply for a grant through the Whole Kids Foundation to provide all schools in the district with salad bars.
Sarah explains the issue is easier to address in some of the smaller communities in Wisconsin, which have smaller student to teacher ratio, where they are better equipped to provide students with fruits and vegetables that are locally grown.
Learn about the Farm to School Program
Learn about the REAP Food Group and its work with schools
Listen to the interview here: