Learn More

Click on the topics below to learn more.

Whatcom Farm to School Brochure

What is Whatcom Farm-to-School?

Across the nation there are over 2300 “farm-to-school” programs bringing more fresh, healthy, and locally produced foods into school cafeterias. Farm-to-school means supporting family farms, reinvigorating the local economy, and fostering lifelong healthy eating habits among children and their families.

In 2009, the Whatcom Community Foundation’s Sustainable Whatcom Fund Advisory Committee launched a comprehensive farm-to-school initiative in Whatcom County.  From this initiative, the Whatcom Farm-to-School Support Team was formed, and pilot projects were launched by groups of parents, teachers, farmers, and Food Service staff in fifteen public and private schools. The momentum for farm-to-school in Whatcom County started to build, and in 2011, all eight public school districts joined forces to launch a county-wide Harvest of the Month Program. Each month, a fruit or vegetable that is in season locally is featured on the school lunch menu. If you have a child in a public school, you can support farm-to-school efforts by buying school lunch on Harvest of the Month days (the date is on your school lunch menu), and helping to spread the word!

Why is Farm-to-School important?

Across the nation, there is growing interest in connecting fresh and local foods with school lunch programs.  With childhood obesity, diabetes, and other nutrition-related diseases on the rise, parents and educators want to see children eating more healthy foods.  At the same time, small farms are struggling to survive.  Farm-to-school programs address both of these community concerns by bringing locally grown foods into school cafeterias.  In Whatcom County, there is a groundswell of interest and opportunity.  Farm-to-school can help…

  • Provide children with more fresh, nutritious foods.
  • Improve children’s health.
  • Encourage lifelong healthy eating habits.
  • Support Washington’s farmers with local markets for their crops.
  • Reduce negative environmental impacts including energy use, waste, and climate change pollution by decreasing food packaging, refrigeration, storage, and transportation.
  • Help preserve our rural communities.
  • Promote awareness of how food choices impact our health, our communities, and the environment.

Where can I find locally produced food?

Use this food locator & publications chart  (download as pdf)

What else is happening in the community?

In 2011, the Whatcom Food Network was launched to build common understanding and facilitate collaborative efforts toward an equitable, sustainable and healthy food system for all.   Find out more about the efforts of community partners and get involved!  Learn about Whatcom County’s local food economy by downloading the Whatcom Food Assessment at http://whatcom.wsu.edu/ag/cfa/

Whatcom County facts and figures

  • 30,000 students, age 5-18 years
  • 57 public schools and 20 independent schools
  • 41% of students qualify for free-and-reduced lunch programs
  • 30% of residents eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables
  • 60% of residents are overweight or obese
  • 1500 farms (half of what we had in the 1950s)
  • 100,000 acres in farmland (half of what we had in the 1950s)
  • 2% of all the food purchased in Whatcom County is grown, raised or caught here

How can I get involved?

  • Parents: Encourage your child to try school lunch on Harvest of the Month day!  Talk to your child about the featured harvest item, and try out the recipes at home.  Find out about volunteer opportunities happening in the cafeteria or classroom, with taste testing and nutrition lessons.  Contact us to find out what is happening in your school.
  • Teachers, PTAs, and School Staff: Take advantage of the Harvest of the Month day at your school to talk about good nutrition, local agriculture, and so much more!  See the resources page, and contact us for information or support.
  • Community members: Volunteer opportunities are available with the Farm to School support team.  Contact us for details.