242889 Farm to school as a viable option in Douglas County, Nebraska?

Monday, October 31, 2011: 10:48 AM

Courtney Pinard, PhD , Gretchen Swanson Center for Nutrition, Omaha, NE
Chelsey Erpelding, MPH , Gretchen Swanson Center for Nutrition, Omaha, NE
Peggy Heires, RD , Gretchen Swanson Center for Nutrition, Omaha, NE
Mary Balluff, MS RD, LMNT , Douglas County Health Department, Omaha, NE
Amy Yaroch, PhD , Gretchen Swanson Center for Nutrition, Omaha, NE
INTRODUCTION: Farm to School (F2S) strives to connect schools and local farms. This study was conducted under the Douglas County CPPW grant and examined the feasibility of F2S in the Omaha region. METHODS: A convenience sample of key stakeholders (e.g., district food service directors [FSDs], local producers, and distributors) were asked to complete surveys via the internet. The surveys assessed usual practices; barriers and facilitators; and willingness to engage in F2S activities. RESULTS: All seven FSDs completed the survey. Main barriers included perceived difficulty in procurement, pricing, food safety concerns, and lack of products available year round but most reported interest in F2S. Local producers (N=49) who sold mainly vegetables, meat, and/or dairy also reported interest in F2S. Twenty-six percent reported previous sales to institutions, such as universities, with main barriers for selling to schools being the inability to generate volume; limited growing season; and price limitations. Distributors (N=5) reported local restaurants as their main channel, followed by franchise restaurants and grocery stores. All distributors reported purchasing locally grown/produced foods in the past year and agreed that purchasing local was important. Facilitating factors to distribute local foods included greater variety; producers meeting minimum food safety standards, and centralized food hubs for easier pick-up. DISCUSSION: This needs assessment is a first step in helping to inform F2S efforts in Douglas County. Several barriers and facilitators were identified among stakeholders; however there is a strong interest in beginning to “grow” F2S in Douglas County.

Learning Areas:
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related organizational policy, standards, or other guidelines
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Describe the findings of a needs assessment for F2S as part of the Douglas County CPPW grant. Describe the opinions of key stakeholders towards procurement of local foods in schools. Discuss the capacity to implement F2S in an urban community with access to agriculture.

Keywords: School-Based Programs, Child Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I work directly with this farm to school program and have an appointment as Assistant Professor in the College of Public Health at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.