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Farm to School Québec

Farm to School Quebec seeks to encourage and mobilize Quebec schools to implement sustainable food procurement and education initiatives.


phogo credit : AgrÉcoles, École Louis-de-France, Trois-Rivières

THE FARM TO SCHOOL APPROACH

The Farm to School Quebec project seeks to increase the amount of healthy, local and environmentally responsible food in the minds and on plates of students and school communities in Quebec’s elementary and secondary schools.

The Farm to School Quebec approach is based on three pillars:

  • access to healthy, local and environmentally responsible food for youth at school (through improving cafeteria menus, by offering regular healthy snacks or by implementing a salad bar service);
  • hands-on learning and student involvement;
  • developing links between youth and their community.
     

The Farm to School Quebec program is inspired by Farm to Cafeteria Canada, implementing, evaluating and disseminating best practices to inspire schools to join the movement.


photo credit : École St-Louis de Gonzague, Montréal

PROJECT HISTORY

Since 2018, Équiterre has helped nearly 15 schools set up sustainable food projects and educational activities. With funding from the «Farm to School: Canada digs in!» initiative, students have been able to get involved in growing, harvesting, preparing, processing and serving healthy, local and environmentally responsible foods at their salad bar.

Équiterre has been the regional coordinator for Farm to Cafeteria Canada since 2018, and as such, has helped nearly 15 schools coordinated by Farm to Cafeteria Canada and funded by the Whole Kids Foundation (WKF), the Public Health Agency of Canada, M361 and the Quebec Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAPAQ).

In 2020, Équiterre provided its expertise to M361 and the Quebec Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAPAQ) in order to deploy two new calls for projects in the province: Alimenter nos élèves : plus d’aliments sains, frais et locaux au menu des écoles and Parcours Impulsion 2021.

Inspired by the Farm to School approach, the objectives of these initiatives were:

  • to foster student health by encouraging youth to adopt healthy eating habits, and;
  • to help develop more sustainable food systems by promoting local procurement and environmentally responsible practices.

New local food procurement projects were therefore developed, such as regular healthy snacks, a salad bar service and improvements to school cafeteria menus

 

ÉQUITERRE’S ROLE

Équiterre initiated the Farm to School Quebec project, working to:

1.Implement the project in Quebec, through coordination and development;
2.Support primary and secondary schools with consulting expertise, training and tools to help deploy their projects;
3.Inspire and mobilize Quebec schools to increase the amount of healthy, local and environmentally responsible foods in the minds and on plates of students.

1. Implement

Through its role as regional coordinator, Équiterre mobilizes and supports schools to implement Farm to School projects. Over the years, Équiterre has developed an expertise in supporting healthy, local and environmentally responsible food in schools.

2. Support

Équiterre has nearly 25 years of experience in supporting public institutions towards sustainable food procurement, with expertise in healthy, local and environmentally responsible agriculture and food. Équiterre guides and supports Quebec schools at each stage of their project: start-up, consolidation, sustainability, support and evaluation.

Support services:

1.Training sessions at each stage of the project;
2.Transfer of knowledge and experience between schools;
3.Personalized consulting service;
4.Resource sharing;
5.Various implementation, communication and awareness tools;
6.Support with local food research and quantification with the Aliments du Québec au menu recognition program;
7.Impact measurement of Farm to School projects in communities.

Équiterre’s guide Improving local food procurement in Quebec schools is the central resource for schools. Published in May 2021, the guide provides essential information and concrete tools to accompany Quebec schools as they develop healthy, local and environmentally responsible food initiatives. View the summary diagram.

3. Inspire and mobilize

Équiterre is working to strengthen the various Farm to School initiatives and mobilize a greater number of schools across the province to join the movement for sustainable and integrated school food. To do so, Équiterre promotes and showcases good practices implemented in Quebec schools, as well as schools elsewhere in Canada.

Click here to see the map.

THE Aliments du Québec au menu Recognition

Équiterre works in partnership with Aliments du Québec through the Aliments du Québec au menu recognition program, which is dedicated to establishments that promote Québec products on their menus. This program was developed in 2016 by Aliments du Québec and Équiterre, with the support of the Ministère de l'Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l'Alimentation du Québec (MAPAQ).

This partnership has enabled all the schools accompanied by Équiterre since 2018 to quantify their local food procurement and obtain an official recognition. This quantification work allows schools to obtain a portrait of their food supply and to benefit from personalized recommendations from Aliments du Québec au menu to increase the proportion of local food. In addition, this quantification allows the teams to set targets for the following years.

Équiterre supports schools in their efforts to purchase local products through tools such as practical information sheets, webinars, and connections with the Family Farmers Network.



 

RESULTS

The Farm to School Quebec project provides opportunities for students and school communities to make informed food choices that help to establish regional food systems, which in turn increase our provincial food sovereignty. Both sustainable and resilient, these regional food systems are good for the health of citizens, communities and the planet.

The benefits of sustainable food procurement initiatives implemented in schools are significant at several levels:

  • Health: they provide students and members of the school community with access to a wide variety of fresh and healthy foods;
  • Local economy: they stimulate local and regional businesses by encouraging partnerships with local farmers and artisanal processors, thereby making it possible to achieve greater food sovereignty;
  • Environment: they encourage behaviours that promote sustainable habits among students, in addition to making them aware of the many environmental issues surrounding food (transportation, pesticides, food waste, packaging, etc.);
  • Education: they help educate students about the importance of their food choices, teaching them about how the agri-food system works, from soil to plate.


photo credit : École Chavigny, Trois-Rivières

Sustainable food supply initiatives are also beneficial for school staff members:

  • Appreciation: they instill pride in offering the best to students and members of the school community, and provide the opportunity to enhance knowledge, deploy creativity and mobilize teams;
  • Satisfaction: they are appreciated by students and members of the school community and promote a greater sense of belonging to the school.

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!

 

Ressources

QUESTIONS?

For answers to your questions, please contact: delafermealecole@equiterre.org.
Subscribe to our mailing list to stay informed about project developments and upcoming funding opportunities.

 

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PARTners

Farm to School Quebec is led and implemented by Équiterre, in collaboration with Farm to the Cafeteria Canada and M361, with financial support from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food of Quebec (MAPAQ) and the Whole Kids Foundation.

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