Farm to School has been a staple in Brown County schools for over a decade with Wello facilitating a Farm to School Task Force that brings in local funding to support the schools and creates a space for the sharing of ideas. Farm to School has long focused on education to increase the understanding of food’s role in our health and thus, help nudge us to engage in better behaviors. While these are important pieces of the puzzle, sustained change requires us to also focus on our policies and practice to ensure we can get those locally grown carrots from the field to the lunch tray. That is why over the past few years, Wello has been working intentionally with local farms and school districts to take a look at the entire supply chain and work together to test small innovations.
Wello was awarded a USDA Farm to School Implementation grant in 2020 that took all nine Farm to School Task Force schools districts through a process of planning, planting and serving a range of local produce. One-on-one meetings with Food Service directors and their staff surfaced the unique challenges faced by school kitchens and allowed us to work with local sustainable farming hub Seasonal Harvest to brainstorm solutions that have led to further innovations.
And the results are stunning. Over the past three years, there has been more than a 400% increase in the amount of local produce purchased by Brown County schools. This means more nutritious food to support student mental health, learning, and growing. It also means dollars spent on food are directly injected in our local economy. It’s a win-win.