Semester of Graduation
School of Plant, Environmental and Soil Sciences
Farm to school is a growing movement that is beginning to draw serious interest in different parts of the United States due to its ability to connect communities with their local producers while providing many benefits. Farm to school entails three main components: school gardening, education and curriculum, and local food procurement. The farm to school movement is relatively new to the state of Louisiana and very little research has been conducted to evaluate the impact of the farm to school programs on local food procurement and the effect on school food environments. Case studies of three Louisiana parish school districts that incorporate local agricultural products into their school food service programs were conducted to understand the specifics on how and why these child nutrition directors chose to procure local foods for their students. The child nutrition directors reported that, in general, local products were of a higher quality and provided great nutritional and educational benefits for their students. The main challenges with acquiring local products related to reliable supply and delivery and an inability to find and communicate with local farmers. The Louisiana Harvest of the Month program was initiated in August 2018 for the fall semester and an evaluation of the program was conducted for the 2018-2019 school year. The Harvest of the Month program provided materials and support to all the schools that enrolled. The evaluation involved a pre- and post-survey that yielded inconclusive results due to limited participation in the post-survey. The presence of cafeteria or school food service leadership on Harvest of the Month teams could lead to better results in future research along with different research methods such as focus groups instead of surveys.
Shaffer, Arin M., "Evaluation of Louisiana Farm to School Programming: Harvest of the Month and Local Food Procurement" (2020). LSU Master's Theses. 5242.