School nutrition directors and schools across the country have been purchasing from regional producers, building school gardens, and even heading out on field trips to the farm, but no comprehensive data exists to validate and document these national trends.
This spring, USDA is conducting a first-of-its-kind nationwide Farm to School Census, surveying over 13,000 school districts to determine how many schools currently purchase local foods. The survey explores which types of local foods schools purchase, what percent of their budget is directed locally, how often they offer local options on the menu, and whether they plan to increase, decrease or maintain local purchasing at current levels. With this kind of market forecasting data in hand, local and regional producers will be better equipped to enter the school food market. Even if you don’t currently purchase any local foods, please complete the survey so USDA has a better sense of what percentage of schools are or aren’t buying locally.
School nutrition directors have until May 3rd to complete the Census. The Farm to School Census is being conducted via SurveyMonkey. For a link to the survey, please contact the Farm to School Census Help Line at (888) 633-8345 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit http://www.fns.usda.gov/cnd/f2s/f2s-census.htm for more information.
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