Community Food Systems

Farmers need markets. If we are serious about transitioning away from intensive, export-driven agriculture, we must set up systems for farmers to get a fair price. IATP’s Community Food Systems program is helping revitalize local economies, give farmers stable and predictable income through the buying power of institutions like school districts and hospitals, and get fresh, healthy, local food to students and communities. We are currently developing a model for Farm to Head Start purchasing to put good food into the hands of underserved young children because lifelong learning requires lifelong healthy eating.

Farm to School advances the following goals:

  • Promote children’s health by providing fresh, healthy and minimally processed foods in schools and supporting the development of healthy eating habits
  • Enhance children’s “food literacy” by familiarizing them with foods grown nearby, teaching them how and where their food is grown, building knowledge about how to prepare healthy foods, and educating them about the health, nutrition, social and environmental impacts of food choices
  • Strengthen local economies by expanding markets for small and mid-size agricultural producers and food entrepreneurs whose products have typically been unavailable in school meal programs
  • Build vibrant locally oriented food systems by fostering positive relationships and increase understanding of local food systems among children, farmers, parents, educators and school districts, healthcare professionals, and other community members
  • Advance environmental stewardship, where practicable, by supporting more sustainable food production methods, reducing reliance on long-distance transportation, and reducing food waste

Filling the Local Foods Gap in the Farm Bill

When we started our partnership with St. Cloud’s Reach Up Head Start program, Nutrition Services Coordinator Haley Anderson knew she wanted to source locally produced food for her kids–she just wasn’t sure how to do it. Building in nutrition education for kids and families was a straightforward process.

Farm to Head Start at Reach Up in St. Cloud, Minnesota

Child care providers and early care settings often have a variety of reasons for participating in Farm to Early Care activities. For Haley Anderson, Nutrition Services Coordinator at Reach Up Head Start in St. Cloud, developing personal relationships with local fruit and vegetable growers was a primary motivator.