Policy Factsheet

Farm to School Programs

Reasons for Policy

  • Farm to school programs create sustainable food systems in schools, which both support the local economy and deliver fresh, healthy foods to students.1
  • Improved school food environment can help address dietary factors related to obesity and diabetes among youth.1
  • The 2008 US Farm Bill allows schools to give preference to local agriculture, making farm to school programs easier to establish.2

Community Groups

  • Local Farmers
  • Local School District
  • Parent Teacher's Association
  • School Food Service Manager

Policy Components

  • Facilitate direct purchases between food service and farmers,
  • Uses a forager to act as a go-between to facilitate purchasing,
  • Arranges for purchase through a local farmer’s market,
  • Enters into a “contract growing” arrangement with farmers, or
  • Sources locally grown food through a distributor.

Desired Outcomes

  • Improved health and nutrition of school-age children
  • Strengthened capacity of local farmers
  • Establishment of a community food systems approach which is independent of the global food system

Level of Evidence Available to Evaluate Effectiveness of Policy

For all policies we describe on this website, we have applied the Standards of Evidence as defined by Flay et al. (2005) in the Standards of Evidence document published by Prevention Science.

The effectiveness level of this policy is 2: Policies with Consistent Evidence from High-Quality Observational Studies.

The levels of effectiveness as noted are:

  1. meets criteria for policy effectiveness (consistent, positive outcomes from at least two high-quality experimental or quasi-experimental trials using a comparison group or interrupted time series design);
  2. consistent evidence available linking policy with positive outcomes from high-quality observational studies only;
  3. insufficient evidence available for policy or policy components.

Achievable Results

On average, farm to school programs can achieve:4

For schoolchildren:

  • Increased access to fresh foods at school
  • Experiential education for sustainability

For food service managers:

  • Easier and less costly to provide healthy food to children

Local farmers:

  • Steady income and convenient delivery
  • Reductions in urban sprawl and protection of farmland

Community benefits:

  • Infusion of money into the local economy
  • Building relationships and community capacity
  • Reductions in urban sprawl and protection of farmland

Community Examples

Auburn School District, Washington, is one of several school districts in Washington to partner with local farmers to provide fresh, local foods for students.

The New North Florida Cooperative Farm to School program partnered with Florida A&M University to provide local produce to several Florida school districts.

University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension and Sarasota County cooperate to provide fresh food to local school districts.

Links to Policy Examples

Washington Revised Code §15.64.060

Florida Statutes, 1006.06(6) establishes the Florida Farm Fresh Schools Program

† Be sure to check with your state, county, and municipal governments regarding potential existing laws that may impede any new policy development.

‡Local governments and organizations may check existing state statutes and administrative codes for the authority to implement local policies.


1 Vallianatos M, Gottlieb R, Haase MA. Farm-to-school: strategies for urban health, combating sprawl, and establishing a community food systems approach. J Plann Educ Res. 2004; 23:414–423.

2 Larsen, S, (2008). Farm bill timing. Community Food Security Coalition Electronic Newsletter. May 2008.

3 Flay, BR, Biglan, A, Boruch, RF, Ganzalez Castro, F, Gottfredson, D, Kellam, S, Moscicki, EK, Schinke, S, Valentine, JC, & Ji, P (2005). Standards of evidence: Criteria for efficacy, effectiveness and dissemination. Prevention Science, 6(3), 151-175.

4 Carlsson, L & Williams, PL, (2008). New approaches to the health promoting school: participation in sustainable food systems. Journal of Hunger and Environmental Nutrition, 3(4), 400-417