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Farm to school : Canada digs in!

Farm to School: Canada Digs In! is an initiative of the Farm to Cafeteria Canada organization in collaboration with Équiterre in Quebec and is part of an effort to get more healthy local foods into the minds and onto the plates of students across Canada.

Today, 1,244 schools and campuses across the country have successfully offered more than 885,000 students the chance to experience Farm to School initiatives: schoolyard gardening, culinary workshops, salad bars, fundraising with local and organic vegetables as well as a multitude of other educational activities.

Supporting healthy and sustainable food choices in schools

This initiative offers grants to elementary and secondary schools and campuses across Canada. The aim of these grants is to give students and school communities the resources needed to make wise food choices and to establish regional food systems. These vibrant and sustainable food systems benefit the health of people, place and planet. Since 2016, 120 elementary and secondary schools in 9 provinces and 1 territory across Canada have implemented salad bars providing over 56,000 students with access to healthy, local and sustainable food.

Salisbury Elementary School, Salisbury, New Brunswick

EDUCATING YOUNG PEOPLE ABOUT ALL ASPECTS OF HEALTHY AND SUSTAINABLE FOODS

The program allows schools to involve their students in growing, harvesting, preparing, processing, sourcing and serving healthy, local and sustainable foods, which will be available in a regularly scheduled salad bar service. All Farm to School programs are therefore a comprehensive set of activities designed to improve student nutrition and food education while strengthening the local food system.

SALAD BARS FLOURISH IN QUEBEC SCHOOLS

For the first time, in 2018, these scholarships expanded to Quebec, with 9 schools selected to receive Farm to School scholarships, each worth $10,000.

This cohort was funded by Farm to School Canada (F2CC) and the Whole Kids Foundation (WKF), with additional financial support from Québec en forme.

As the regional coordinator for the Farm to Cafeteria Canada movement, Équiterre will guide and support the school grant recipients in Quebec in the implementation of the program. Équiterre has been actively involved with Farm to Cafeteria Canada since its establishment in 2011.

 

A case study about recognizing local procurement in 9 Quebec schools

In June 2020, Farm to Cafeteria Canada, in collaboration with Équiterre, published a case study about the implementation of salad bars in the first Quebec schools to receive Farm to School Canada grants and participate in Farm to School: Canada Digs In! initiative (2018-20).

This first Québec cohort of grantees shares a holistic vision of using salad bars as a tool to introduce and promote healthy, local and sustainable foods to students. All participating schools introduced and sustained an advanced local procurement approach. This engagement was sustained through support from Équiterre and the implementation of a structured process led by F2CC and a recognition program known as Aliments du Québec au menu.

This study aims to inspire other institutions to join the movement! It demonstrates that the Aliments du Québec au menu recognition program and the Farm to School: Canada Digs In! initiative have been synergistic. Such partnerships have the potential to enhance the Farm to School movement and larger national momentum toward creating healthier, more resilient and sustainable local food systems.

The case study is available here.


 

A FULL-CIRCLE WIN FOR EVERYONE

By providing students with both quality nutrition in the cafeteria and hands-on food education in the classroom, while simultaneously supporting the local food supply chain, the Farm to School movement creates a virtuous circle where everyone’s a winner, from students to communities, local farmers and local food economies. A recently released report from Farm to Cafeteria in collaboration with the Whole Kids Foundation and the Social Planning and Research Council of British Columbia, Raising the Bar: A look at the early impact of the Farm to School Canada Grant Program, takes a detailed look at the significant impact that the Farm to School program had on the first round of grant recipients.
 


Take a look at the school food initiatives on the National School Food Map of Canada and sign up your school today.

EDIBLE EDUCATION COMMUNITY OF PRACTICE

If you are a teacher, school staff member, community worker, parent or volunteer working to promote food education in your community, join the Edible Education community of practice! An initiative of Farm to Cafeteria Canada and the Coalition for Healthy School Food, supported in Quebec by Équiterre, the community of practice aims to provide support to people working on food education initiatives (projects focusing on school gardens, cooking programs, outdoor learning, etc.). It is a platform for practitioners to connect, be inspired and collaborate with other practitioners from across Canada. Find all the information to register here!

Farm to school during covid-19
 

Questions?

For answers to your questions, please contact: delafermealecole@equiterre.org.
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The Farm to School project is coordinated and implemented by Équiterre in Quebec. It is made possible by the support of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food of Quebec (MAPAQ), through the Proximité program, funded under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, as well as Farm to Cafeteria Canada through the “Farm to School: Canada digs in!” initiative.

 

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