FLORIDA FOOD CONNECT
The Florida Farm to School program has created the Florida Food Connect website, where buyers and sellers can connect. Producers can create a profile and indicate what they currently have available and buyers can then contact a producer who meets their needs, or alternatively post on their profile items they are looking to purchase. Producers can also sign up to receive courtesy e-mail notifications from the state of Florida's Vendor Bid System about relevant bid advertisements.
The Sarasota County Farm to School Program is supported by UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County for the purposes of providing ‘Local Food for Healthy Children’ in our public school lunch & snack programs and of strengthening the local agricultural economy. It is part of the National and Florida Farm to School Programs which educate communities how to provide locally-grown foods in school meals for the benefits of high nutrition to the children and for opportunities in direct marketing and risk management to farmers, especially producers on middle to small size family farms. The national Program provides national and southeast region newsletters of project information and resources. In Florida, many counties now also are initiating Farm to School programs with the support of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS).
Local Program Successes
- Sarasota County Farm to School Economic Impact (PDF)
- Since 2007, the Edible Schoolyard Program in Sarasota County has provided garden-based curricula, supplies, and volunteers to help teachers provide activities where students learn how to grow, cook, and taste fresh, nutritious foods that they grow themselves. The national Edible Schoolyard Program is a model for the use of school gardening to support the Sarasota County Farm to School Program by improving the awareness and consequent consumption by students of locally grown foods in school lunches.
Edible Schoolyard Program
These efforts are supported by the Farm to School Program of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which offers a website to connect local farmers to local school districts. To learn more, visit farmtoschool.org/policy and frac.org/Legislative/action_center/index.html. Read more about the Edible Schoolyard Program.
How You Can Help
There are community partner opportunities assisting the Sarasota County Farm to School Program. For example, community partners include the Sarasota County government, and the Sarasota County Farm Bureau, which have provided staff funding, and the Hi Hat Ranch in Sarasota and the Jones Potato Farm in Parrish, which have participated in past pilot project events. Community endorsements include the All Faiths Food Bank of Sarasota, the Sarasota-Manatee Originals, and the Boys & Girls Club of Sarasota County. Endorsements are welcome from interested community groups.
The Sarasota County Farm to School Program welcomes all interested groups or individuals wishing to get involved in supporting its goals, including volunteers for edible school gardens. Educational presentations are available about the Program to community groups. Contact Robert Kluson at 941-861-5000.