The 7th Annual Farm to Cafeteria Conference held in Austin, TX last month was an impressive gathering. Eleven hundred (1100) people attended from all 50 states. The only reason more people did not attend was because the Hilton Hotel could not accommodate any more!
The conference was hosted by the National Farm to School Network, which is an information, advocacy and networking hub for communities working to bring local food sourcing and food and agriculture education into school systems and preschools.
The Network reported that in 1990, there were 6 F2S programs in the country. Today, there are 38, 629, and we here in northeast Georgia are one of those programs.
Jim Hightower, former Texas Commissioner of Agriculture, spoke twice during the conference. During his second speech, he joked about a Texas hardware store whose motto is, “Together, we can do it yourself”. In movements such as F2S, it is often the dedication of a small group of committed individuals that spark change. After attending this conference, one thing is clear to me: we are not alone.
My take-away from the conference was the power and potential offered by Food Corps. Georgia has been selected to participate in the Food Corps program, which means that 7 to 10 Service Members will be working with selected F2S programs across the state. Two Food Corps Service Members will be assigned to F2S in northeast Georgia beginning in September. In general, Service Members:
• Teach kids about what healthy food is and where it comes from
• Build and tend school gardens
• Bring high-quality local food into public school cafeterias
At the conference, Food Corps Service Members were a very present and energetic presence. They were excited about their work and about the fact that Food Corps is coming to Georgia. I feel that with their support of our program in the coming year, we will continue to grow, reaching students not just in the cafeteria but in school gardens, as well.
To learn more about Food Corps, visit https://foodcorps.org.
The website for the National Farm to School Network is http://www.farmtoschool.org.