The Massachusetts Farm to School Project seeks to increase access to healthy, locally grown food in schools and other institutions for the good of our children, our farms and our communities.

 

What We Do

We facilitate sustainable purchasing relationships between local institutions and local farms, promote local food and agriculture education for students, and support state, regional and national networking of farm to school practitioners.

Why We Do It

Although we are focused on the sober realities of school meals and agricultural economics, at the heart of our work is sharing the pleasure of “real” food with others, and a belief that bringing growers and eaters closer together encourages community health on many levels. Feeding students healthier foods and supporting local farms is a win/win situation for everyone in our State.

We encourage everyone to get involved in re-inventing our local food system!

Growth of Farm to School Programs

The number of participating school districts and farms has grown tremendously since we began the Project.

SCHOOL YEAR 05-06 06-07 07-08 08-09 09-10 10-11 11-12
Public School Districts 32 85 167 205 194 217 231
Colleges & Ind. K-12 Schools 19 23 33 49 77 81 89
Farms 20 48 69 45 95 110 114

Our History

In 2001, “farm to cafeteria” was an idea that a few farmers, food service directors, and employees at the Mass. Dept. of Food and Agriculture (DFA, now Mass. Dept. of Agricultural Resources) decided to explore. Then Commissioner Jay Healy, Allandale Farm, Carlson Orchards, Verrill Farm, and the Fessenden School were early supporters.  After leaving the DFA in 2003, Kelly Erwin created a pilot program for the Mass. School Food Association (now the School Nutrition Association of Massachusetts) called “Get Fresh Get Local” in five school districts: Belchertown, Hudson, Maynard, Middleborough, and Worcester.

In 2004 she launched the Mass. Farm to School Project, a statewide grassroots initiative, with funding from the Mass. Dept. of Agricultural Resources (MDAR). MDAR continues to be an essential supporter of our farm to institution efforts.  Other essential supporters include the Farm Bureau Agricultural Preservation Corporation, members of the School Nutrition Association of MassachusettsMass. Fruit Growers Assoc.and National Association of College and University Food Services, as well as staff at the Mass. Dept. of Elementary and Secondary Education, Mass. Dept. of Public Health, MassDevelopment, Mass. Public Health Association, and Project Bread.  Our 501(c)3 fiscal sponsor is Third Sector New England.

The pioneering work of our regional “buy local” organizations—Berkshire Grown, CISA, Northeast Harvest, and SEMAP—has helped open school doors to locally grown foods.  Even our Legislature has passed laws to support farm to school connections in Mass. We are proud to find widespread enthusiasm throughout the Commonwealth, and we’ve come so far! We are grateful to the many private and public financial supporters who’ve made it possible for us to “grow” the Project.

We are deeply involved with the National Farm to School Network and Farm to Institution New England.