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FARM TO SCHOOL: MORE VERMONTERS GETTING MORE ACCESS TO LOCAL FOOD

Posted by: Stuart Comstock-Gay on 1/11/2013
In December we awarded grants close to $300,000 to five nonprofit organizations working to support Farm to School programs across the state. Our goal with these grants is to connect farmers with cafeterias, cafeterias with classrooms, and classrooms with families.

These five grants launched the Community Foundation’s five-year Food and Farm Initiative: our effort to ensure that Vermont’s fabulous agricultural economy is connecting with the entirety of the state. One of Vermont’s unknown tragedies is that 13% of Vermont households and one in five Vermont children cannot always count on getting the food they need to thrive and survive. So in the next five years, we’ll work to support farmers, schools and other institutions like preschools, hospitals, and prisons that have the power to connect low-income Vermonters with local food.

Our initial focus is on schools. That’s because schools are places where we can put in place innovative programs that can change the way local agriculture works in our communities. Our five grants will provide training to farmers, food service workers, and families. They’ll help farmers access local processing facilities so they can sell to institutions. They’ll help families access and purchase local food in bulk. And they’ll help Vermont move closer to becoming the first state in the nation to make all low-income children eligible for free school meals.

As we move forward with the Food and Farm Initiative, we’ll work closely with other philanthropists and funders who are paying close attention to this issue. Together, we’ll make a collective impact.

Vermont wouldn’t be a national leader in Farm to School programs today without the work of the Agency of Agriculture and other state colleagues. Along with Vermont’s congressional delegates and all our nonprofit partners, these leaders have been incredible proponents of local food access. We thank them for their dedication.

And the biggest thank you of all goes to Vermonters. We thank all those who care about an agricultural system that serves the people. This is about helping the business of agriculture serve all people in the community. Because that’s what this work is truly about—the whole Vermont community.
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