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Farm to school food program grows – Audio

Farm to school program grows

Vanessa Herald, Outreach Specialist
Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems
UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
Phone (608) 263-6064

3:02 – Total Time
0:15 – What is farm to school
0:43 – Changes of fresh food in school
1:08 – How to meet challenges
1:29 – Wisconsin schools love program
2:02 – Many foods available
2:22 – For more information
2:35 – Many cooperators
2:52 – Lead out


Sevie Kenyon: Back to school with fresh vegetables and fruits. We’re visiting today with Vanessa Herald, Farm to School outreach specialist, University of Wisconsin-Madison in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and I’m Sevie Kenyon.

Vanessa, tell us first of all what is Farm to School.

Vanessa Herald: Farm to School is a program that really helps support healthy lifestyles for students and increase market opportunities for Wisconsin growers who want to be selling their products into new places like schools. Farm to School encompasses a couple of components including serving local foods in the cafeteria or classroom education around food system or what we call engagement activities like school gardens or having a chef or farmer come visit the classroom.

Sevie Kenyon: And Vanessa, what kind of challenges are there to doing this is in a school?

Vanessa Herald: There are often a number of small challenges, but none that can’t be overcome. When we’re looking at the buying fresh, local product one of the big challenges that we hear is that school food service staff don’t have the skills or the capacity or the facilities in order to process and serve local products. And so that’s a challenge that we’re trying to solve right now.

Sevie Kenyon: Can you give us some examples of how these challenges are addressed?

Vanessa Herald: One project that we’re working on right now is called the Chop-Chop Culinary Skills video training series where we’re creating a series of culinary training videos that will teach food service directors and also line staff how to handle and use fresh Wisconsin fruits and vegetables.

Sevie Kenyon: What kind of success has Farm to School had?

Vanessa Herald: Farm to School is really in a growth spurt in Wisconsin and there are now at least 65% of Wisconsin schools that are engaged in some kind of Farm to School activity. So that could be anything from serving a meal that’s entirely local food or maybe serving a local apple on the lunch tray to doing a taste test where students get to taste a local carrot and maybe meet a local farmer to any kind of engagement in classroom activity like learning about where milk comes from and watching videos of dairy cows.

Sevie Kenyon: Can you give us some examples of the kinds of foods that these schools are now being able to use?

Vanessa Herald: Farm to School really started with fruits and vegetables because those are kind of the easiest to incorporate in the school lunch. But now we have schools that are using local yogurt. Schools are also moving toward using local protein. So some schools are incorporating local chicken, local pork, local beef on the tray.

Sevie Kenyon: Vanessa, if people are interested in more information what should they do.

Vanessa Herald: Visiting the CIAS website is a great place to start. So if you just search for C-I-A-S or Wisconsin Farm to School toolkit that will take you to the right place.

Sevie Kenyon: Vanessa who else is involved in the Wisconsin Farm to School project?

Vanessa Herald: The Department of Ag, Trade and Consumer Protection and the Department of Public Instruction are really strong partners in making Farm to School happen across the state. And we also do work closely, especially with the Chop-Chop program, with CESA Nutrition purchasing who helps to get local food in to Wisconsin districts.

Sevie Kenyon: We’ve been visiting with Vanessa Herald, Wisconsin Farm to School outreach specialist, University of Wisconsin-Madison in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and I’m Sevie Kenyon.