Thursday, January 26, 2012

Life Of A Dietetic Intern: Community Nutrition Program

Hey everybody! I’ve been getting very busy at the UK Extension Office and one of the programs I’m learning a lot about and am practically falling in love with is the Farm To School Program (F2S). This program is the first of it’s kind in Kentucky and it’s seriously the creme de la creme of nutrition education programs that will be implemented first into a high school setting. The following has been adapted from a F2S Publication.

What is it?
F2S enables every child to have access to nutritious food while simultaneously benefiting communities and local farmers. In addition to supplying nourishing, locally grown and produced food in schools, F2S programs offer nutrition and agriculture education through taste tests, school gardens, composting programs, and farm tours. These experiences help children understand where their food comes from and how their food choices affect their bodies, environment, and community.

This program is so important because more than 30 million children eat school food five days a week, 180 days a year. If school food can improve the health of kids, develop new marketing opportunities for farmers, and support the local economy, it’s a win-win for everyone.

Why F2S?
    • ⅓ of U.S. children are obese and overweight
    • The typical food item in the U.S. travels 1,500 to 2,400 miles from farm to plate
    • With only 2.2 million farmers, the U.S. has more prisoners than farmers

Benefits of F2S
    • The choice of healthier options in the cafeteria through F2S meals results in consumption of more fruits and vegetables with an average increase of 0.99 t 1.3 servings per day, including at home.
    • Schools report a 3 to 16% increase in school meal participation when farm-fresh food is served through F2S programs.
Reasons To Buy Local Food
    • Locally grown food looks and tastes better. The crops are picked at their peak and farmstead products like cheeses are hand-crafted for best flavor. Livestock products are processed in nearby facilities and typically the farmer has a direct relationship with processors - unlike animals processed in large industrial facilities.
    • Local food is better for you. The shorter time between the farm and your table, the less likely it is that nutrients will be lost from fresh food.
    • Local food preserves genetic diversity. Small local farms often grow varieties of crops to provide a long harvest season, unlike a modern agricultural system.
    • Local food is safe. Local farmers aren’t anonymous and they take their responsibility to the consumer seriously.
    • Local food supports local families. The wholesale prices that farmers get for their products are low, often near the cost of production. Locals farmers who sell direct to consumers cut out the middleman and get full retail price for their food - which helps farm families stay on the land.
    • Local foods benefits the environment and wildlife. Well-managed farms provide ecosystem services: they conserve fertile soil, protect water sources, and sequester carbon from the atmosphere. The farm environment is a pathwork of fields, meadows, woods, ponds, and buildings that provide habitat for wildlife in our communities.
How Does F2S Work?

How To Start F2S In Your Community

Before my preceptor and her colleagues implement this program into the school system, they have several more steps to take (i.e., receive guidelines from the USDA) and finish the Reference Guide. As an intern, I'm helping with some of the Reference Guide content, which has been an awesome learning experience. Thanks for reading!

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