Oregon schools rank highest in farm to school food program

Two-thirds of Oregon school districts participate in farm to school and school garden activities.

SALEM, Ore.—Oregon has clearly embraced farm to school programs and is poised to increase the impact local foods have in the lives of school children statewide.

Results of the first ever USDA Farm to School Census provide both a national and state-by-state snapshot of related efforts. The assessment shows that Oregon school districts are directing 24 percent of their food budgets to purchase local foods. That’s the highest percentage in the country. In addition, two-thirds of all Oregon school districts are participating in farm to school and school garden activities.

“It’s remarkable to see that one out of every four dollars spent by our school districts on food goes to buy local foods,” says Katy Coba, director of the Oregon Department of Agriculture.

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We do a monthly Meal In The Life, where residents of different cultures serve as our ambassadors and help coordinate the program. A couple of months ago it was Russia. We had a Russian-themed menu and a resident ambassador who got to wear a button and talk about the culture. We do an hors d’oeuvres session and a food demo, followed by a full-blown meal the next day in our dining room. The servers wear something special, and we have special music.

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