Economic Impact of Farm-to-School in Minnesota
Farm-to-school programs consist of sourcing local farm products for school cafeterias. Often, the purchases are combined with learning activities for the students, centered around nutrition and farm education. Programs are cropping up across America as a means to improve both student health and knowledge about food and farming. One oft-quoted reason for supporting farm-to-school programs is the economic impact programs will have on local communities, as dollars previously used to purchase food from outside the local area are directed toward local purchases. Very little research, however, has been done to measure the economic impact of farm-to-school programs on local communities.
We collected information directly from farmers and schools to undertake an accurate analysis of economic impacts of farm-to-school programs in the Region Five Development District (Morrison, Todd, Wadena, Cass, and Crow Wing Counties). This information allowed the project team to estimate the potential demand for local food products from farm-to-school programs, and to assess the ability of local farmers to meet that demand. We also investigated the prices schools currently pay for products that could be supplied locally and the prices farmers would require to supply those products.
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