The mission of the Delaware Farm to School Advisory Board is to establish an integrated sustainable network that will enhance health and empower Delaware children to consume local products by means of a strong collaboration involving schools, farmers, and the communities they serve.
We are a statewide collaboration of farm-to-school advocates who work to:
- communicate and share information to help promote enhancing school feeding programs
- empower school nutrition supervisors to embrace the farm-to-school concept and share resources
- coordinate the opportunity for districts to network with Delaware farmers
- discuss opportunities and barriers related to Delaware farm-to-school programs
Since July 2010, more than $200,000 worth of fruits, vegetables, and meat from Delaware farms has been served in school cafeterias. Strawberries, apples, and asparagus are among the most popular items.
The Farm to School initiative began in March 2010 when the Secretaries of Agriculture, Education, and Health & Social Services signed a memorandum of agreement during a ceremony held at Phyllis Wheatley Middle School in Woodbridge School District. Although Farm to School has existed for years at various schools, the purpose of the agreement was to develop a unified Farm to School Program to assist all schools in purchasing local products. A Delaware Farm to School Advisory Board was formed, with representatives from school districts, farmers, parents, the Department of Education, Nemours Health & Prevention Services, the University of Delaware, Delaware State University, and Master Gardeners.
After the signing of the MOU, the Delaware Strawberry Week was born, during which all 19 school districts purchased strawberries from various local farmers. Governor Jack Markell proclaimed May 21-27 as Strawberry Week in Delaware from the steps of David W. Harlan Elementary in Brandywine School District. The third annual Strawberry Week was recently celebrated in 2012, with schools featuring strawberries on their serving lines freshly sliced, in salads, and in a few cases as soup!
The first order of the board was to develop a mission statement and a logo. Twenty-three logo designs were received, and the top four were voted on by the FTS Advisory Board. The winners were honored during a state school board meeting.
The Inaugural Farm to School Summit was held in March 2011 at the Delaware Agricultural Museum and Village. Fifteen of the 19 school districts were in attendance, with 11 farmers. The program grew in popularity as demonstrated by the increased attendance at the Second Annual Farm to School Summit in February 2012.
Much of the work has been done behind the scenes, such as farmer surveys, Child Nutrition Supervisor surveys, presentations, meet & greets, data collection, and field trips for the nutrition supervisors. They have toured the Perdue Innovation Center and the Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market. In summer 2011, they toured Kent County farms and this summer will tour Sussex County farms. Farmers have received presentations on selling tips, and had another opportunity to meet school district representatives at the 2012 Ag Week.