Farm to School
Local Food Hub has a strong track record of putting healthy farm-sourced food on school lunch plates in Central Virginia. Our farm to school work is focused on providing the infrastructure and services along the entire supply chain that are needed to get healthy, locally sourced foods to children, as well as helping them develop an understanding of and connection to Virginia’s farming communities. Farmers benefit, and it makes a lasting impact on the health and eating habits of a new generation.
Celebrating Virginia Farm to School Week
Virginia Farm to School Week, organized by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, provides an opportunity for schools and partnering organizations to highlight efforts that are taking place throughout the year to source more school foods locally, and to provide educational activities to students that emphasize food, farming, and nutrition. These efforts, commonly referred to as “farm to school,” have benefits that reach beyond the cafeteria since they make a lasting impact on the health and eating habits of the next generation and farmers benefit from increased market opportunities now and into the future.
Since 2009, Local Food Hub has tripled the number of schools accessing local food, now serving over 70 public schools in eight districts, as well as private schools and universities. Among participating public school systems, over 40% of students are entitled to free or reduced-price meals, making efforts to bring nutritious, fresh foods to school children all the more important. In addition to the school lunch program, Local Food Hub’s participation in snack programs and after-school and summer-feeding programs is helping to make access to healthy, local food the norm, not the exception, for all segments of the community.
In 2014, Local Food Hub provided grass-fed beef, sweet potatoes, romaine lettuce, spinach, apples, kale, broccoli, butternut, acorn and spaghetti squash, gold and red potatoes, apple cider, and peppers to Greene County Schools, Albemarle County Schools, Charlottesville City Schools, Nelson County Schools, Waynesboro Public Schools, and Staunton City Schools. To educate students about the fresh, tasty snacks and lunches they enjoyed throughout the week, it hosted in-school demonstrations with partner producers, including Spring Gate Farm, located in Greene County, Hill Farm Vintage Vegetable, located in Louisa County, Dickie Brothers Orchard, located in Nelson County, and others. Activities included meet-the-farmer events, taste tests, garden activities, and more.
A huge thank you to Whole Foods Market Charlottesville for their generous support of our Farm to School Week efforts. Thanks to their 5% Day, where 5% of the day’s sales were donated to support our efforts to get fresh, local foods into Virginia schools, Local Food Hub was able to deliver more than 9,000 pounds of local produce and meats to over 28,000 students.