Rural Community Impacts of Farm to School
Food Supply Chains, Educational Programming, and Household Food Purchases

Research is needed to understand the impacts of Farm to School Programs (FTSPs) on farmers and food supply chain businesses, household consumption patterns, and school food procurement, choice and consumption.

  • Nearly 100,000 schools across the U.S. serve school lunches to 30.5M students each day ($13.6B annual federal dollars).
  • Leveraging these public expenditures to create economic opportunities for rural communities, U.S. agriculture, and food supply chain businesses, as well as to improve the health and well-being of children and households is essential.
  • Congress formally mandated funding for FTSPs (local food procurement, FTS education, and/or school gardens) as part of the 2010 Child Nutrition Act.
  • As of 2018 $7.5 million of federal funding is allocated to FTS.
  • Mandatory funding has been mirrored by increases in FTSP rates with 42,587 schools reported participating as of the 2013/14 school year. FTS legislation rates have also spiked in States across the country.
  • Despite the undeniable interest in FTSPs and the mandate of federal support, more rigorous national level research is needed to quantitatively assess whether FTS programs contribute to positive economic and public health outcomes in rural communities.

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kids win farmers win communities win

Photo Courtesy of: National Farm to School Network

Research Objectives:

  • Evaluate if FTSPs result in increased market access and profitability outcomes for farmers and food supply chain businesses. Learn More
  • Explore geographic and inter-temporal patterns in U.S. households’ food demand/consumption to assess whether FTSPs are correlated with changes in the purchased amounts of recommended foods at home. Learn More 
  • Pilot in-school experiments to assess how specific FTSPs influence food choice, consumption, and waste. Learn More
  • Introduce results to research, extension, practitioner, and policymaker audiences. Through integrating three research and extension scopes, this project will yield improved understanding of emerging FTS markets, resulting in long-range improvement in the sustainability of U.S. agriculture, local food systems, and rural communities. Learn More