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Oregon Farm to School and School Garden Policy Approach

Overview

Dissemination Category: The Oregon Farm to School and School Garden Policy Approach is an emerging intervention based on its use of evidence-based strategies. Developed in practice, it shows promise but evidence in support of effectiveness is not yet available.

Intent of the intervention: The Oregon Legislature, Department of Agriculture and Department of Education support farm to school and school garden activities in Oregon with state-level policies.  Each farm to school and school garden program in Oregon is unique; at their best, these programs increase children’s access to and consumption of locally grown foods.  They also seek to improve knowledge of and attitudes toward eating a variety of locally grown foods through a) local procurement, b) promotion of local foods and their producers, and c) food, nutrition, and garden-based educational experiences. 

Informed by the Model for Food and Garden-based Education1, farm to school and school garden activities in Oregon address multiple levels of the socio-ecologic model, with a primary focus on changing the school food and learning environments to increase access to healthy, locally grown foods.  A secondary focus is on influencing students’ knowledge of, attitudes toward, and behaviors related to consuming those foods.  Farm to school and school garden activities additionally impact the community environment by supporting local food producers.

Intended Populations: School districts and the primary and secondary school-aged children they serve

Secondary audiences: Oregon farmers, fishers, ranchers, food processors, food distributors, and food manufacturers

Setting(s): Elementary, middle, and high schools

Background: To institutionalize integrated farm to school and school garden programs across Oregon, advocates identified a three-pronged systematic policy approach that included creating full-time staff positions, one in the department of agriculture and one in the department of education.  Their approach also included state funding for school meal reimbursements to purchase Oregon agricultural products and grants to support food, nutrition, and agricultural education.  

More specifically, in January of 2007, the Oregon Farmers Feeding Oregon Kids Coalition, later to be named the Policy Workgroup of the Oregon Farm to School & School Garden Network, embarked on a three-point legislative agenda:

  1. Creating a Farm to School Coordinator position in the Oregon Department of Agriculture.
  2. Incorporating a Farm to School and School Garden Program in the Child Nutrition Programs of the Oregon Department of Education.
  3. Establishing state funding a) to reimburse schools 15 cents per lunch and 7 cents per breakfast for purchasing Oregon food products (equivalent of $19.6 million), and b) to create a competitive education grants program to support food, garden and agriculture activities (equivalent of $3 million for up to 150 school teaching gardens each fiscal year).

Since successful farm to school and school garden programs require the involvement of multiple segments of society, advocates sought a staff position dedicated to these programs in each agency.  Each department has unique access and connections crucial to production, distribution and purchasing decisions, and education and nutrition service operations.  Their differing areas of established expertise and responsibilities related to the school food environment create a need for coordination between agencies.  While some areas of work overlap, the rationale for establishing farm to school positions in each department is based on the agencies’ separate functions, different audiences and their ability to accomplish different objectives.

In 2007, advocates successfully secured a position in the Oregon Department of Agriculture.  In 2008, the legislature created the Oregon Farm to School and School Garden Program in the Oregon Department of Education’s Child Nutrition Programs.  In 2011, the legislature appropriated $200,000 to pilot a grant program that provides 15 cents per lunch to purchase Oregon produced and processed foods and up to $20,000 to support food and garden-based education activities.  The dual state agency involvement in farm to school and school gardens in Oregon is the focus of this template.

Length of time in the field: In 2007, the Oregon State Legislature established a Farm to School Program Manager position within the Oregon Department of Agriculture’s budget bill.  In 2008, House Bill 3601a established the Oregon Farm to School and School Garden Program, funding a position to coordinate and promote farm to school and school garden activities in the Oregon Department of Education. In 2011, House Bill 2800 created a pilot grant program within the Oregon Department of Education that will (a) reimburse school districts for costs incurred to purchase Oregon food products and (b) fund food-based, agriculture-based and garden-based educational activities in school districts.



1 Ratcliffe, M.M. (2007) Garden-based education in school settings: The effects on children's vegetable consumption, vegetable preferences and ecoliteracy. (PhD dissertation, Tufts University's Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy).