California Farm to School Program
Farm to school programs are a vital way to improve the health and well-being of California schoolchildren through integrated food-based education and healthy food access. California schools serve hundreds of millions of meals each year, and expanding opportunities for local food procurement that is tied to food-based education is essential for establishing healthy eating habits that children can carry into adulthood. Procurement of more California grown or produced food also supports connecting California's agriculture and food production to California consumers.
The CA Department of Food and Agriculture and CA Department of Education are collaborating to help connect schools with CA Food Producers, including socially disadvantaged food producers and small businesses. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like additional support with the Local Food for Schools or School Food Best Practices programs.
As part of California’s nation-leading investment in farm to school programs, the California Department of Food and Agriculture Office of Farm to Fork (CDFA-F2F) is excited to announce $25.5 million in funding for 120 farm to school projects across the state.
In total, these projects represent 1,489,364 students, 163 school districts and educational entities, over 50 farms, four food hubs and enormous support from California’s urban, rural and suburban communities.
Building on her commitment to ensuring California children have the best start in life, First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom announced the release of a new report, Planting the Seed: Farm to School Roadmap for Success on February 24, 2022. The report highlights policy goals to advance child well-being, economic growth, environmental resilience, and racial equity through farm to school systems that connect children to locally sourced, whole foods and produce in cafeterias, classrooms, and gardens.
The report and its recommendations are the result of a collaboration -- led by First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom and California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross -- among a number of state agency leaders, education professionals, and farm to school experts and practitioners.
While individual farm to school programs vary based on their unique vision, community, and geographic region, the CDFA broadly considers farm to school programs as combining: (1) schools and early care and education programs buying California grown or produced foods from California food producers for school meal programs, (2) educational activities that connect classroom learning with cafeteria meals, and (3) hands–on food education opportunities in school gardens, on farms, in culinary classes, in settings that celebrate traditional foodways and cultivate food sovereignty, and through other experiential learning pathways. Programs may include forest–to–school, river-to-school, and ocean–to–school.
The California Department of Food and Agriculture – Office of Farm to Fork (CDFA-F2F) is excited to share that the California Budget Acts of 2020, 2021 and 2022 include nation-leading investments in farm to school programs.
The Budget Act of 2020 included a $10 million one-time General Fund allocation for the 2020-21 fiscal year and $1.5 million annually thereafter for the CDFA to establish a Farm to School Incubator Grant Program and provide ongoing support for the California Farm to School Network.
The Budget Act of 2021 included a $60 million one-time General Fund allocation for CDFA-F2F to sustain and expand the California Farm to School Incubator Grant Program, with $30 million allocated for fiscal year 2021-22 and $30 million allocated for fiscal year 2022-23.
The Budget Act of 2022 includes an additional $30 million one-time General Fund allocation for the CDFA-F2F to further expand the California Farm to School Incubator Grant Program in fiscal year 2022-23.
Taken together, this amounts to $30 million to fund the 2022 California Farm to School Incubator Grant Program and $60 million to fund the 2023 California Farm to School Incubator Grant Program (details to come). To stay up to date on the upcoming application cycle for the 2023 round of funding, we encourage you to sign up for our newsletter.
The CDFA Office of Farm to Fork hosts the California Farm to School Network (CFSN), which functions as a communications hub and a convener across many organizations and regions in the state. The Network aligns farm to school efforts, shares resources, and brings food producers, school nutrition services departments, educators, distributors, and advocates together to collaborate and engage in peer-to-peer learning.
The California Farm to School Network originated as the California Farm to School Taskforce, which formed in 2004 to provide coordination and leadership around farm to school programming. In 2013, the Taskforce broadened its work and transitioned to a network open to everyone in the state of California who is working on farm to school programs and projects. In 2017 the California Farm to School Network transitioned to the CDFA Office of Farm to Fork.
The California Farm to School Network is hosting a Community of Practice event series via Zoom! Each event will provide the opportunity for peer-to-peer learning, relationship building, and collaborative solution-building. Registration is free and open to all.
Community of Practice #5: Thursday, December 15, 2022 @ 1:30 PM PT
The CA Farm to School Network hosts a biennial conference to bring together farm to school practitioners from across the school food and education spaces for professional development, networking, and the sharing of best practices.
More information coming soon about the Fall 2023 conference.
CA Farm to School Newsletter
View previous newsletters here.
CA Farm to School Network Regional Map
- Superior Region
- North Coast Region
- Bay Area Region
- Central Region
- San Joaquin Region
- South Coast Region
- Greater Los Angeles Region
- Southern Region
Regional Farm to School Network Leads
These new positions will establish our regional California Farm to School Network collaboratives, facilitate relationships with partners across the school food ecosystem, support California Farm to School Incubator Grantees, and organize regional convenings and events. Positions are fully remote and staff should live in/near their region.
- Central Region (Alpine, Amador, Calaveras, El Dorado, Mariposa, Merced, Mono, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Tuolumne, & Yolo counties)
Farm to School Regional Producer Engagement Specialist
These new positions will provide value chain coordination for schools, producers, + partners looking to sell foods to schools + institutional buyers. Focus is on small + midsize farms, BIPOC farmers + ranchers, + climate smart agriculture. Positions are fully remote and staff should live in/near their region.
- San Joaquin Region (Fresno, Inyo, Kern, Kings, Madera, & Tulare counties)
- Southern Region (Imperial, Riverside, San Bernardino, & San Diego counties)