Farm to School Awareness Day at Statehouse to Recognize Success of Vermont’s Groundbreaking Farm to School Programs

WHAT: Farm to School Awareness Day is a celebration of the successes of Vermont’s pioneering Farm to School programs and the State of Vermont’s investment in Farm to School initiatives.

WHO: This Vermont Farm to School Network event is organized by the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets (VAAFM) and Vermont Food Education Every Day (VT FEED, a collaboration of the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont and Shelburne Farms). The day features contributions from stakeholders across the state -- Farm to School service providers, farmers, school food service, teachers, students, administrators, and parents, among others. The public is invited to attend.

WHERE: Vermont Statehouse, 115 State Street, Montpelier, Vermont 05602

WHEN: Wednesday, February 10th, 2016

VT FEED, VAAFM, Hunger Free VT, farmers, students, teachers, and food service representatives will testify on the impacts of Farm to School at the Vermont House and Senate Agriculture Committee legislative hearing in Statehouse Room 11 from 10:30am-12:00pm.

The Farm to School Grant Program Awards Ceremony will take place in the Statehouse Cafeteria from 4:00-6:00pm. This ceremony includes announcements of the 2016 Vermont Farm to School grantees as well as talks by Vermont Senator Michael Sirotkin, Vermont Agency of Education Secretary Rebecca Holcomb, Vermont Agency of Agriculture Secretary Chuck Ross, and students. Farm to School stories and displays will fill the room.

WHY: Vermont schools serve over 8 million meals annually, and over the last decade, Vermont Farm to School Grants have supported programming in one third of these schools. The goal of the Vermont Farm to School Network is to have 75% of schools engaged in integrated food systems education and purchasing 50% of products from Vermont and the surrounding region by 2025. Farm to School can significantly contribute to the state’s agricultural economy and ensure that all students have access to healthy and local foods, are taught lifelong healthy eating habits, and have interdisciplinary, hands-on learning experiences that meet education standards. Two weeks ago, the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee advanced bipartisan legislation, authored by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), to double funding for the federal Farm to School grant program as part of a larger package reauthorizing child nutrition programs through 2020. The provision increases funding for USDA Farm to School grants from its current level of $5 million to $10 million annually and expands the grant program’s scope to include preschools, summer food service, and after-school programs. The USDA Farm to School Grants program is modeled after Vermont’s program, which has helped the State become a national leader in the Farm to School movement.

Contact: Vera Chang, Public Relations and Marketing Director for Shelburne Farms, [email protected], 917.846.1865

Ali Zipparo, Senior Agriculture Development Coordinator, Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets, [email protected], 802.505.1822

Vermont Food Education Every Day (VT FEED) is a partnership program of the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont and Shelburne Farms. VT FEED’s mission is to work with schools and communities to raise awareness about healthy food, good nutrition, and the role of Vermont farms and farmers.

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets: VAAFM facilitates, supports, and encourages the growth and viability of agriculture in Vermont while protecting the working landscape, human health, animal health, plant health, consumers, and the environment.