By Sandra Renner
On June 2-4, 2016, more than 1,500 people will gather in Madison, Wisconsin for the 8th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference. The biennial event, hosted by the National Farm to School Network, is the only national gathering of people seeking opportunities to learn, network, and collaborate with like-minded farm to cafeteria leaders working to source local food for institutional cafeterias and foster a culture of food and agriculture literacy across America.
This year’s theme, Moving Forward Together, will lift up new and innovative partnerships that continue to build strength and ensure long-term sustainability. Cafeterias in schools, childcare centers, universities, prisons, and hospitals serve more than 40 million Americans every day. That places the farm to cafeteria movement at the forefront of the fight to end obesity and strengthen local food systems.
The Center for Rural Affairs has worked closely with the National Farm to School Network to champion the Midwest Region’s efforts. We’re fortunate to be located in a region rich with agricultural knowledge and skills. We’ve also been leading Farm to School programs here in Nebraska. We focus on small rural schools participating in Farm to School, and how that participation can make our small towns more vibrant.
Farm to school enriches the connection communities have with fresh, healthy food and local food producers. It changes food purchasing and education practices at schools and preschools. To learn more or find resources about Farm to School near you, we encourage you to use our Farm to School Online Guidebook.
Sandra Renner of the Center for Rural Affairs can be reached at [email protected]