Celebrating Farm to School Month with an Impact Report, Stories and Resources

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Author: Josie Di Felice

Posted: October 5, 2020

Categories: Good Food Ideas for Kids / GoodFoodBites / Growing Good Food Ideas / News from Sustain Ontario / Schools

October is Farm to School Month in Canada, and this year, we’re celebrating by sharing farm to school’s significant impact across the country!

We are excited to share that Farm to Cafeteria Canada (F2CC) has released the Farm to School: Canada Digs In! Report 2020, which tells the story of the first three years of the Canada Digs In! initiative — Canada’s first national farm to school initiative. This initiative was launched by F2CC with support from 10 provincial partners, including Sustain Ontario.

To learn more about the Canada Digs In! initiative in Ontario, join our webinar with F2CC on October 20th!

Between September 2016 and June 2020, 86 schools and 10 campuses participated in Canada Digs In!. These schools received grants of up to $10,000 each to deliver farm to school salad bar programs, which had students eating healthy, local food at school, while engaging in hands-on food literacy activities.

The interactive report celebrates the champions who made this work possible, provides links to practical resources developed along the way, and showcases the project’s immediate impacts.

Within the report, you’ll find 10 practical resources to support farm to school initiatives, as well as a series of info-sheets that communicate the impacts of farm to school programs. These info-sheets will be useful in building support for farm to school going forward.

For instance, 94% of schools reported an increase in student consumption of healthy food; and 95% of schools reported that students had greater knowledge and were more aware about gardening, agriculture, and the environment.

Check out the Ontario info-sheet here, which includes details like:

  • 32 elementary and secondary schools in Ontario received grants totalling $343,000, reaching 15,381 students
  • 87% of schools reported the salad bar created a greater sense of vibrancy and excitement
  • 85% reported students were more excited about healthy eating
  • 33% of students even reported their confidence had increased

Personal stories like this one from Lori Furfaro at College Heights Secondary School in Guelph show how one school’s salad bar engaged the students and created a sense of community (note that this story about the salad bar was before COVID-19).

While schools certainly look different this year as they work hard to adapt to changes brought on by COVID-19, these numbers, success stories and resources can help us point to exciting opportunities to continue this work in the future.

2020’s grant recipients were announced last month, with 34 new grantee schools across Canada, including 8 in Ontario.