Nebraska Farm To School Institute
The Nebraska Farm to School Institute was established for school year 2021-2022 to strengthen local food purchasing and education practices within Nebraska school-community teams. Eight school teams were competitively selected to participate in the Institute to engage in training, and to receive technical assistance and coaching support. The Nebraska F2S Institute is modeled after the “3 C’s” Approach, pioneered by Vermont FEED, which integrates the Classroom, Cafeteria, and Community into the development of goals and farm to school action plans.
The inaugural Nebraska Farm to School Institute was hosted by the Nebraska Department of Education and Nebraska Extension and was supported by USDA Farm to School grant funds.
These teams were competitively selected based off of several factors, including strength in their team diversity. Team members at the schools included a school administrator, school nutrition director, and an Extension educator. Other team members ranged from Ag Educators, parents, school board members, farmers and ranchers, Family and Consumer Science teachers, community business owners, and other interest groups.
The Institute launched with a week-long intensive virtual training in June 2021.
Evaluation from the week-long intensive identified the impact from the Institute content and trainings on the readiness for teams to implement their project plans. In the pre-Institute survey, participants were asked to rate their readiness to implement a farm to school action plan. Less than one-third (29%) said they were “very ready” to implement, with 68% indicating they were “somewhat ready” (50%) or “a little ready” (18%). In the post-week of the Institute survey, there was a big jump in participants indicating they were “very ready”, nearly doubling from 29% to 56%.
What’s the future for the Nebraska Farm to School Institute?
The Nebraska planning team from NDE and Extension were selected to participate in the 2022-23 Farm to School Adaptation Program hosted by Vermont FEED in partnership with USDA Food and Nutrition Service. Our team intends to learn closely with other state teams and will consider adaptions that can be made to our Nebraska Institute to best fit our state needs and priorities moving forward. The evaluation material collected from Nebraska’s 2021-22 Institute will also strongly influence future planning and implementation of a Nebraska Institute.
Congratulations to Overton Public School’s farm to school team who was chosen to attend the 2022 Farm to School Institute in Vermont, alongside the Nebraska planning team!