JCN&M Study Concludes FTS Activities Differ at Schools Depending on Management Style and Length of Participation

2017-02-08

When first envisioned by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the hope of the Farm to School (FTS) program was that one day every child who participates in nutrition assistance programs would have daily access to local foods. USDA estimates that as of the 2012-2013 school year, 4,322 districts operating approximately 40,328 schools with over 23 million students in attendance, spent almost $600 million in local food products, while teaching children where their food comes from. Simply put, FTS refers to efforts that bring locally or regionally produced foods into school cafeterias. That includes hands-on learning activities such as school gardening, farm visits and culinary classes, plus the integration of food-related education into classroom curriculum. Activities that accompany a FTS program can encourage students to consume more of the fruits and vegetables served in school meals.

A new study published in The Journal of Child Nutrition & Management surveyed school nutrition employees in FTS programs, in 75 different schools, to learn their perceptions related to type of operations and length of participation in FTS. These activities include not only purchasing and serving local produce, but also educating students about local produce, taste testing, farm visits and school gardens. School Nutrition Employees’ Perceptions of Farm to School (FTS) Activities Differ Based on Management Type and FTS Participation Length, finds that schools with self-operated nutrition management programs had approximately one more FTS activity than did schools which outsourced food services with contract management companies. And, the longer a school participates in a FTS program, the greater the number of FTS activities implemented.

Authored by Sangwook Kang, MS, CHE; Susan W. Arendt, PhD, RD, FAND, CHE and Nathan M. Stokes, PhD, readers of this study will acquire meaningful information for school administrators and child nutrition professionals about implementing and maintaining FTS activities. Findings from this research can also aid school nutrition directors in deciding whether they should retain an FTS program.


About The Journal of Child Nutrition & Management
The Journal of Child Nutrition & Management (JCN&M) is the exclusive source for research findings in this profession, and it features a variety of studies in the following four categories: Commentary, Current Issues, Research in Action and Practical Solutions. Published twice a year, this peer-reviewed research journal is available free of charge, online only. Read the current issue today.

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