Farm to School at the food bank - Capital Area Food Bank
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Farm to School at the food bank

By Jody Tick March 1, 2010

What business does the Capital Area Food Bank have improving the quality of school meals in Washington, DC?  Actually, quite a bit!  It’s certainly an exciting time for school meal reform here in the nation’s capital, and the food bank is excited to be involved.
The Capital Area Food Bank distributes food, but it also provides education and skill-building opportunities that build community capacity to address the issues of hunger and poverty.  We just added a new program to our ranks that does just that – the DC Farm to School Network (the Network).  The Network works to connect D.C. schools with healthy, locally-grown foods to serve in their cafeteria meals. It’s a non-traditional program of the Food Bank – not about food distribution directly, but about developing the capacity for the District to nourish and educate vulnerable youth – to the tune of over 100,000 meals each day.
Farm to school programs connect local farmers with local schools so that more healthy, local foods are served in school cafeterias.  They also offer hands-on education about food, health, nutrition and the environment (in the form of school gardens, farm field trips, chef demos, and more).  Farm to school programs get kids excited about eating healthy, local foods because they look and taste better.  And we all know how important it is for kids to eat healthy foods like fruits and vegetables, especially when the District has one of the highest child obesity rates in the nation.

If we look at child poverty rates, Washington, DC has the highest of all the states. Low-income students don’t have to pay, or pay very little, for school meals because they’re subsidized by the federal government. In the District, about three out of every four students qualify for subsidized (free or reduced-price) meals.  As a result, many low-income children get their main meals each day at school.
The food bank sees school meals as an opportunity to nourish youth in the District on a large scale – many of whom are at risk of hunger.  We see school meal reform efforts as a down payment on the future of kids who will grow to inherit this city.  Learn more about what we’re doing to make farm to school programs happen in the District at
Do you think school nutrition and farm to school are important?  Testify at the Healthy Schools Act hearing on Friday, March 26th!  More information at