In 1999, Dame Farm in Johnston was host to a “Farm Supper & Discussion” where interested school food service directors, farmers, and community advocates came together to figure out how local schools could purchase RI grown apples.
This was the humble beginning of RI’s Farm to School program. Since then, farm to school activities continued to grow and garner greater support with more food purchasing, hands-on garden-based learning and integrated classroom food, nutrition, and agriculture education.
Many school/district wellness policies added language to encourage sourcing and serving of locally grown foods as well as cafeteria and curricular lessons (such as taste-tests, farm field trips, and growing activities) to support a comprehensive farm to school program. But these initiatives remained primarily localized and lacking a unified, statewide vision, plan or promotion.
The Rhode Island Farm to School Network was established in 2019 to provide leadership and unify advocacy, funding and organizational capacities to strengthen and expand farm to school efforts in all RI communities.
The RI Farm to School Network is funded in part by the USDA Food & Nutrition Service & the Henry P. Kendall Foundation, supporting the following collaborative partners: RI Department of Education (RIDE), RI Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM), RI Commerce, RI Healthy Schools Coalition (RIHSC), and Farm Fresh RI.