farm to school | Economic Impacts of Local and Regional Food Systems

New report: Economic impacts of farm to school, September 29, 2017

Webinar: Economic Impacts of Farm to School

The webinar is part of a wider effort to promote the release of the associated report Economic Impacts of Farm to School: Case Studies and Assessment Tools (a collaborative project of the National Farm to School Network and Colorado State University). Panelists discuss findings of the new report, highlight the use of two key resources for conducting economic impact studies of food system initiatives and their application to farm to school economic impact assessment, and discuss continuing work to better understand the impacts of farm to school activities. Additional panelists include representatives from USDA Office of Community Food Systems, USDA Agricultural Marketing Service and Cornell University.
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Nearly 100,000 schools across the U.S. serve school lunches to 30.5M students each day ($12.99B annual federal dollars). Leveraging these public expenditures to create economic opportunities for rural communities, U.S. agriculture, and food supply chain businesses, as well as to improve the health and well-being of children and households is essential. In 2010, Congress formally mandated funding for farm to school programs (FTSPs: local food procurement, education and/or school gardens) as part of the 2010 Child Nutrition Act – the first major change in school food in 15 years. As of 2013/2014, 42,587 schools reported participating. Despite the undeniable interest in FTSPs and the mandate of federal support, there has been little rigorous research at the national level to quantitatively assess whether FTSPs contribute to positive economic and public health outcomes in rural communities.


What are the impacts of farm to school programs on farmers and food supply chain businesses, household consumption patterns, and school food choice, consumption and food plate waste?


  • Evaluate if FTSPs result in increased market access and profitability outcomes for farmers and food supply chain businesses;
  • Explore geographic and inter-temporal patterns in U.S. households’ food demand/consumption to assess whether FTSPs are correlated with changes in the purchased amounts of recommended foods at home;
  • Pilot in-school experiments to assess how specific FTSPs influence food choice, consumption, and food plate waste;
  • Introduce results to research, extension, practitioner, and policymaker audiences. Through integrating four research and extension scopes, this project will yield improved understanding of emerging FTS markets, resulting in long-range improvement in the sustainability of U.S. agriculture, local food systems, and rural communities.

Source: farm to school | Economic Impacts of Local and Regional Food Systems

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