VDACS News Releases
September 25, 2017
Virginia Observes Farm-to-School Week with Events and Local Foods across the State
Contact: Elaine Lidholm, VDACS – 804.786.7686; Charles Pyle, Virginia Department of Education, 804.371.2420
On Oct. 2-6, Virginia will celebrate Farm to School Week, an annual program coordinated by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) and the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) with support from many other statewide partners. Now in its 10th year, the program raises awareness of fresh, Virginia grown products available throughout the year.
“A decade ago, Virginia was one of the first states to join the national effort to connect schools with fresh, seasonally grown foods from their local farmers,” said Sandra J. Adams, VDACS Commissioner. Adams, who will visit Charles Barrett Elementary School in Alexandria Oct. 4 with First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe and Dr. Robert Staples, Superintendent of Public Instruction, says that the Farm to School program not only increases market opportunities for Virginia’s farmers, but it also helps more than 800,000 school-based youth understand where their food comes from and how their food choices impact their health, community and the environment.
“Having locally produced foods available in our schools sends a strong educational message to our students,” Staples said. “Our students see that eating healthy local fresh foods is not only good for them, it’s good for the environment, it’s good for their community. This is a great opportunity to connect our great agricultural resources with another great resource — our students.”
On a typical day, Virginia’s K-12 public schools serve 313,796 breakfasts, 643,432 lunches and 10,782 after-school snacks, according to the VDOE. To ensure that the Commonwealth’s public schools have an ample supply of fresh and healthy food options for students, the Virginia Farm-to-School program connects schools directly with Virginia farmers and local fresh food distributors. In fact, in a recent U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) survey of more than 1,300 Virginia schools, approximately half of their meals and snacks, on average, contain products from local produce, meat and dairy farmers.
As part of the Farm to School Week celebration, Virginia schools, early care settings, families and other organizations across the Commonwealth are invited to “crunch” into a Virginia Grown apple or other locally grown crunchy items for “The Crunch Heard ’Round the Commonwealth” at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 4.
Other activities planned during the week include:
According to the USDA’s 2015 Farm-to-School Census, 57 percent of the responding Virginia school districts engaged in Farm-to-School activities and invested approximately $7.8 million in local food, with the average school district spending 3 percent of their budget on products from local farmers. More Virginia Farm-to-School Census results can be found here.
When Virginia established a Farm-to-School taskforce in 2007, it was one of the first states to do so. In 2009, the first Virginia Farm-to-School Week took place. The Virginia General Assembly passed a 2010 resolution to officially designate the first full week of November as Virginia Farm-to-School Week. In 2015, the General Assembly changed the date to the first full week in October to highlight the peak harvest for many crops.
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