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Farm to School: A Comprehensive Review from 2010-2020


Highlights

  • Farm to school activities aim to improve nutritional outcomes for K-12 students.
  • A multi-pronged study of farm to school efforts since 2010.
  • A cumulative description of farm to school activities over the last decade.
The Challenge

Following the 2010 reauthorization of the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) created a Farm to School Program to distribute grant funding, provide training and technical assistance for improving access to local foods in schools, and disseminate research and data on existing programs and opportunities for expansion. The USDA seeks to understand the extent of all farm to school activities and their impact on the economy and other local, regional, and national systems.

The Approach

Abt Associates examined farm to school efforts across the country through a multi-pronged approach:

  • A literature review of farm to school-focused research published since 2010
  • An analysis of nearly 1,000 progress reports submitted by 365 USDA Farm to School grantees from 2013-2017
  • In-depth interviews with school food distributors about local food purchasing around the country
  • A national census of farm-to-school activities of about 19,000 school food authorities (SFAs) participating in the National School Lunch Program
The Results

The study produced a first-of-its-kind set of reports, including results from the 2019 Farm to School Census of SFAs, comprehensive findings based on 2013-2017 Farm to School grantee progress reports, and a review of farm to school-related publications over the past decade. Together, they provide a cumulative review of the scope and accomplishments of farm to school efforts across the country. Along with providing an opportunity to reflect on past efforts, our findings provide the USDA, SFAs, school food distributors, and other stakeholders the context to shape future farm to school activities. The reports and census data are being released in 2021.