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Natural Awakenings Philadelphia

National Farm to School Month is a Win-Win-Win

Each October, The Food Trust and its partners across the country come together for National Farm to School Month, a celebration of programs that benefit farmers, communities and most importantly, children. Farm to school programs combine healthy food access with nutrition and agriculture education, including experiential learning like gardening and farm field trips and locally grown food in school meals and snacks. Connecting children with how and where their food grows and those producing them teaches food literacy early on.

Deb Bentzel, MPH, associate director of community food systems at The Food Trust, says, “In Philadelphia, over 100 school cafeterias participate in a ‘harvest of the month’ program, in which a locally grown fruit or vegetable is featured on school breakfast and lunch menus each month—from apples to squash, blueberries to greens—so that students can experience farm-fresh flavors all year long.”

In addition to cafeteria initiatives, students in Philadelphia get their hands dirty by gardening. From Andrew Jackson Elementary, in South Philly, to the fully functioning farm at Saul Agricultural High School, in Roxborough, young people across the School District of Philadelphia are planting seeds, harvesting edible crops and learning about healthy eating and cooking, environmental stewardship and a host of other topics.

“As we look to create equitable access to healthy local foods while supporting our regional farmers, farm to school programs become a win-win-win for growers, communities and young people: a unique solution to building a food system that is inclusive, educational, fun and delicious,” says Bentzel.

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