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Farm to school benefits kids, local economies

Radio Transcript from Minnesota Farm Network, On the Farm radio show with Tom Rothman

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(9/12/2011) —This is Bev Durgan on the Farm. Governor Mark Dayton declared September as Farm to School Month in Minnesota. The phrase "farm to school" refers to programs that encourage schools to use more local foods in their cafeterias and encourage teachers to include food and agriculture in their lesson plans.

These programs are growing in Minnesota. More than 120 Minnesota school districts participated in farm to school in 2010. That's a 43-percent jump from the previous year.

Farm to school programs are good for our economy. Buying food locally helps farmers and rural communities. Farm to school programs can contribute as much as $400,000 annually to a regional economy, according to a University of Minnesota Extension study.

Farm-to-school programs are also good for our kids. Research shows that students in schools with a farm to school program increase their daily consumption of fruits and vegetables.

The educational impact of farm to school programs is good for agriculture. An increasing number of Minnesota youth have no connection to a farm and only a vague idea how food is raised. Farm to school programs help make that connection and increase the awareness among young people about food and agriculture.

University of Minnesota Extension is committed to providing the research-based information that will help both farmers grow food and consumers make informed choices on the food they consume. You can find out more about farm to school programs on our website www.extension.umn.edu/farm-to-school. This is Bev Durgan on the Minnesota Farm Network.

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