To the editor:

Not often do we consider the possibilities that emerge from a school cafeteria.

Most of the time, they’re places where students enjoy a break, eat a meal, and socialize with friends. The cafeteria is, absolutely, all of these things, but it’s also much more as many groups are realizing. Our school cafeterias can be transformed into both the largest classrooms and restaurants in the nation.

From the farmer to the teacher to the school food service director, farm to school programs are a network of stakeholders with each offering unique expertise to benefit the health and education of our students.

Across the country, we are seeing more partnerships form as students sell garden harvest in local farmers markets and local farmers allow students to grow seedlings in their greenhouses. Food service directors and farmers are realizing that few barriers exist to prevent the purchase of local food.

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The biggest factor is often the relationship building between school and farmer. It doesn’t only have to be vegetables either, local beef has become more accessible and popular.

As we move into a new school year, there are many ways to get involved. October is Farm to School Month and many districts will be hosting activities. In our home state of Nebraska, many schools participate in a Crunch Off, a competition to get the largest number of students to crunch into fresh fruits and vegetables.

For resources on bringing farm to school to your community, follow the Center for Rural Affairs and the National Farm to School Network.

Justin Carter

Project associate, Center for Rural Affairs

Lyons, NE

Established in 1973, the Center for Rural Affairs is a private, non-profit organization working to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities.