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WSDA Farm to School: our programs, our history, and our team

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Farm-to-School Yakima Bus Tour, 2010

In this section, learn about:

Farm to School at WSDA
The Washington State Department of Agriculture is dedicated to fostering relationships between schools and agricultural producers in Washington State. Our goal is to support expanding economic opportunities for farmers while educating students about the connections between food, farming, health, and the environment. WSDA provides information, inspiration, assistance, and policy solutions for those working to supply healthy Washington-grown food and related education to youth in our State.

WSDA Farm to School Program History
In 2008, Washington advocates for children’s health, agricultural vitality, farmland preservation, environmental protection, and poverty alleviation identified local agriculture and child nutrition programs as a key intersection of these issues and a leverage point for change.  This coalition of advocates created the Local Farms - Healthy Kids Act, which was passed almost unanimously by the legislature and signed by the Governor in 2008.  This legislation created the Farm to School Program within the Washington State Department of Agriculture.

The Farm to School Program worked closely with the WSDA Small Farm & Direct Marketing Program, the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, WSU Small Farms Team and other partners around the state to facilitate and improve farm to school connections for health and learning.
Click here to read the 2008-2009 WSDA Farm to School Legislative Report

In 2011, funding was eliminated for all Domestic Marketing and Economic Development programs at WSDA, including the Small Farm & Direct Marketing and Farm to School Programs. WSDA support of farm to school and other farm to institution markets continued on a limited basis with grant funds.  In 2013, state funding was partially reinstated, with enough funds for 1 FTE to operate both the Small Farm Direct Marketing Program and the Farm to School Program.  With that limited capacity, WSDA continues to support farms, schools and other partners through grants and partnerships.

WSDA programs and services have included:

 

Washington State Farm to School Summit
In April 2015, WSDA brought together farms, processors, distributors, schools, educators and school gardeners to learn together and strategize next steps in regional farm to school efforts. With representatives from USDA, National Farm to School Network, Washington Sustainable Food & Farming Network, and nearly 30 speakers experienced in Farm to School efforts around the state, the Summit was an inspiring and invigorating two days!  This project was funded in part by a USDA Farm to School Conference and Events Grant, and included sponsorship from the Whatcom Community Foundation, the Washington Potato Commision, the Washington State Dairy Council, and Northwest Farm Credit Services.

 

Taste Washington Day
Schools around the state will be serving a locally-sourced meal and providing education and activities to celebrate the farms that feed us.  WSDA provides support to match up farms, schools and distributors to facilitate the purchasing process. 

Farm and School Food Service Trainings
We are developing and providing farm trainings on institutional markets, including product needs, how to approach schools, and food safety and insurance requirements. School food service trainings include direct purchasing, preparing fresh produce, and seasonal menu planning. We are constantly seeking feedback regarding what trainings would be most helpful to farms and schools.

OSPI Partnerships
In addition to working with Nutrition Services on school meals and Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Grants, we partner with the Environmental & Sustainability Program, Family & Consumer Science Program and Agriculture & Horticulture program on school gardens, community partnerships, and integration of Farm-to-School education in curriculum.

Conferences and Farm to Table Events
Farm to School staff have participated in many conferences and events to share about the benefits and logistics about Farm to School. Learn more about integrating Farm to School in your next event, ways to get connected and find possible connections at buyer-seller meet and greets.

Farm to Prison Pilot (2010-2011)
Partnering with the Department of Corrections, this pilot is a direct purchasing program between farmers and two correctional facilities. This program may provide a great institutional sales opportunity, as the correctional facilities are able to work with all sizes of farms and receive product directly from the field, with minimal to no packing.

Communities Putting Prevention to Work Projects
The WSDA Farm-to-School Program is working on three projects funded through Communities Putting Prevention to Work grants via Public Health-Seattle & King County. These projects include: Implementing a farm to school program with Kent School District; developing assessment tools and resources for senior and childcare meal programs; and conducting legal research and guidance on local food procurement for school districts.


The WSDA Farm to School Team

Laura Raymond, Lead
Small Farm Direct Marketing and Farm to School
lraymond@agr.wa.gov
(206) 256-6157

Chris Iberle, Education and Outreach Specialist
Small Farm Direct Marketing and Farm to School
ciberle@agr.wa.gov
206-256-1874

Karen Ullmann, Education and Outreach Specialist
Small Farm Direct Marketing and Farm to School
kullmann@agr.wa.gov
(206) 256-6151
 

 

 



Last Updated: 11/18/2016