Department of Agriculture

Supporting Arkansas farmers and ranchers while ensuring safe food, fiber, and forest products for the citizens of Arkansas, the nation, and across the globe

Farm to School and Early Childhood Education Program

The Farm to School and Early Childhood Education Program connects schools, local growers, and the community to food and farm education experiences paired with healthy, locally grown food. The Program provides equitable and just programming, resources, funding, and technical assistance to schools, farmers, and partners in the local food system.

Farm to School

Farm to school enriches the connection communities have with fresh, healthy food and local food producers by changing food purchasing and education practices at schools and early care and education sites. Students gain access to healthy, local foods as well as educational opportunities such as school gardens, cooking lessons, and farm field trips. Farm to school empowers children and their families to make informed food choices while strengthening the local economy and contributing to vibrant communities. Farm to school implementation differs by location, but always includes one or more of the following: 

School Gardens: Students engage in hands-on learning through gardening and farming;
Education: Students participate in education activities related to agriculture, food, health, or nutrition; and
Procurement: Local foods are purchased, promoted, and served in the cafeteria or as a snack or taste test.

Programs

The Farm to School and Early Childhood Education Program (Program) is the facilitator of the Arkansas Farm to School Collaborative, a statewide farm to school efforts between state agencies, non-profits, schools, and farms. Further, the Program manages two programs for school gardens: the Arkansas School Garden Grant Program and the Arkansas School Garden of the Year Contest. Both school garden programs offer grant or contest funding to early care and education facilities, K-12 schools, and alternative learning environments. Another support the Program provides is information and training on local procurement. Lastly, the Program assists in the leadership of the AmeriCorps program Full Circle FarmCorps. The mission of FarmCorps to confront food insecurity and strengthen communities through farming, outreach, and teaching.

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture is honored to support the goals of the Farm to School and Early Childhood Education Act and is pleased to submit the Arkansas Farm to School 2020 Annual Report. Further, the Program is excited to share a new report: Farm to School and Early Childhood Education in the USDA Southeast Region that was written in response to farm to school research and interviews with key players in the southeast of the United States.

The Department is pleased to share the Arkansas Farm to Early Childhood Education 2021 Survey Results. The survey collected responses from February 17, 2021, until March 22, 2021, and received 202 responses from child care providers and individuals throughout the state who work with children aged 0-5 years. 

For information about this program contact:
ERICA BENOIT
FARM TO SCHOOL AND EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION PROGRAM COORDINATOR
erica.benoit@agriculture.arkansas.gov

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Supporting, Protecting, and Growing Arkansas Agriculture and Forestry
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1 Natural Resources Dr.
Little Rock, AR
72205
Email
(501) 225-1598