Our Farm to School Institute Model Expands Nationally

Posted on July 30, 2019

"This is much bigger than farm to table, we're changing lives"

This quote from a school leader during the Mississippi Farm to School Institute captures the essence of how we’re using transformation in the food system to create changemakers in our schools — all with the goal for a more sustainable future. 

For almost 20 years, VT FEED has been developing a model of whole school change that builds robust and long-term farm to school programs in schools. This programming connects classrooms, cafeterias, and communities and builds agency in students to advocate for change and make decisions based on their values – because they see how that change affects them and the community they live in. 

The Farm to School Institute began in 2010 as a professional development program for Vermont schools. With enthusiasm growing, it expanded to the seven Northeast states in 2015. To date, the Institute has helped 97 schools and districts build enduring farm to school programs, reaching 102,000 students. 

In the past few years, evidence of the success of the Farm to School Institute model to support school food system change has spread, and observers from over a dozen different states and national organizations have joined us to learn from our best practices. It is our shared intention to replicate or adapt the model in their home states. In 2019, organizations in Mississippi, New York, New Hampshire, West Virginia, and Massachusetts launched local versions of the Institute. Leaders from Montana, Iowa, Virginia, and Maine are now exploring adaptation for future years. And all of these partners are part of a Community of Practice we support to share lessons learned, tools and resources, and continue to innovate and build the movement.

Read more about the Mississippi Farm to School Network's Institute here.

Vermont FEED Program Director Betsy Rosenbluth at the Missouri Farm to School Institute.