Tallahassee, Fla. –The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) Division of Food, Nutrition and Wellness will host a virtual Farm to School Experience on Wednesday, Oct. 20. It is an opportunity for schools, distributors and producers to connect and learn more about the 2021 Farm to School initiative.
The initiative helps increase the amount of fresh, local foods served in Florida schools, enhances students’ academic achievement and supports Florida’s economy. It contributed to $127,937,568 in total economic impact and nearly 3.5 million pounds of Florida produce served in Florida schools during the 2019-2020 school year. This included more than $4.6 million in Florida fruits and vegetables sourced through competitively procured food service contracts and an estimated 30 million lunches served in Florida schools including a component from Florida.
“With all the challenges the last year has presented for our agriculture industry, it’s more important than ever that we emphasize the importance of local and Florida-grown produce,” Commissioner Nikki Fried said. “This year’s Farm to School Virtual Conference Experience is free and open to the public. While aimed to educate and inspire school nutrition professionals towards greater engagement with Florida farmers and increased utilization of Fresh From Florida products, the conference is poised to be a great experience for anyone who wants to learn more about the intersection between schools, nutrition, and agriculture.”
This year’s theme, Transitioning into a New Era, will guide conference guests across five tracks: school gardens, food recovery, logistics, building community, and program innovation. A keynote speech will be provided by Roy Finley. Most widely known as the “Gangsta Gardener,” Ron Finley inadvertently started a horticultural revolution when he transformed the barren parkway in front of his South Central Los Angeles home into an edible oasis. Ron’s goal was simple: Bring healthy food to an area where there was none. This experience blossomed into a quest to change how people eat and to teach youth that they have the capacity to design their own lives.