HOWEY-IN-THE-HILLS, Fla. – The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) hosted its annual Florida Farm to School Conference from March 9-10 in Central Florida to connect with schools, distributors, and producers across the state to increase Florida products served in schools. Participants learned about best practices for school gardening and procurement processes, networked with other Farm to School advocates, and heard success stories from partners with strategies for a successful Farm to School Program.
“When our schools prioritize Florida-grown food, we all succeed – from the local farmers who grew the food, to those who delivered the food, to the school staff who purchased and prepared the food, to the students who enjoy the fresh, nutritious food, and every Floridian in between,” said Commissioner Wilton Simpson. “The Annual Florida Farm to School Conference presents a valuable opportunity to invite those who take part in bringing the food to our students’ lunch table together to make a meaningful impact in the lives of Florida’s students and agriculture-related industries.”
FDACS’ Florida Farm to School initiative works to enhance the connection that communities have with local growers to increase Florida products served in schools, offer healthier options for Florida’s children, and get students involved in nutrition and agriculture education through school garden activities.
To further support Florida growers and strengthen the state’s agriculture industry, State Senator Jay Collins and State Representative Danny Alvarez recently filed SB 1164 and HB 1279, which include provisions creating a purchasing preference for food grown by Florida farmers by certain agencies and public institutions.
During the 2021-2022 school year, Florida schools purchased more than $45 million in Florida products, contributing to $97 million in total economic impact.
For more information on the event, visit the Florida Farm to School Conference webpage.