New Mexico Celebrates Farm to School Month

By Pam Roy

Photo courtesy of Monkey Business Images.

October is National Farm to School Month. This month recognizes a wide variety of schools and programs across the state that are creating avenues for local farmers to supply school cafeterias and meals programs with fresh fruits and vegetables, while educating students on where their food comes from, how it is prepared, and its connection to health and well-being.

New Mexico’s Farm to School program began eighteen years ago with the help of the nonprofit organization Farm to Table and through the efforts of the NM Food & Agriculture Policy Council, NM School Nutrition Association, and many other key partners. Because of these efforts, the New Mexico Public Education Department (NMPED) announced an investment in the program through the New Mexico Grown Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Grant. This grant benefits children and farmers across the state by providing schools with resources to buy fresh locally grown produce from New Mexico farms. A total of fifty-six New Mexico school districts will receive funds to increase and evolve farm to school programs; twenty-five districts will be implementing for the first time. Last spring, NMPED’s Student Success and Wellness Bureau also created a New Mexico Farm to School and Nutrition permanent position to support farm to school and cafeteria programs across New Mexico.

Core partners are now working to develop a statewide network. These partners include the New Mexico School Nutrition Association, the New Mexico Department of Health’s Healthy Kids Healthy Communities Program, the Department of Agriculture, the Community Engagement Center at the University of New Mexico, FoodCorps, the New Mexico Food & Agriculture Policy Council, Farm to Table, NM Cooperative Extension Service, the National Farm to School Network, and the USDA. All are working together to enhance NMPED’s commitment to the program, ensuring its stability and growth.

Farm to Table would like to thank the many farmers, school food services directors, students, teachers, organizations, agencies, and policymakers who have nurtured the Farm to School program as it has evolved. They also invite the public to Food & Farms Day and School Nutrition Day at the Legislature on January 24, 2019. This is a wonderful event that takes place in the Rotunda at the Roundhouse and gives people a chance to come together to celebrate, learn, and engage around all of this work.

Please feel free to contact Farm to Table at 505-660-8403 or Pam Roy at pam@farmtotablenm.org.

Farm to School Tour with Anthony Wagner, co-owner of Wagner Farms in Corrales. Bottom: 2017 NM Food and Farms Day, NM State Legislature. Photos courtesy of Farm to Table.

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