(Dec. 14, 2009)—Santa Monica/Malibu school district director of nutritional services, Rodney Taylor, initially dismissed the idea of more fresh, locally grown produce served in a school district in the mid-1990s. Yet when faced with the students' complaints about the salad bar, Taylor, a bit reluctantly, decided to implement a two-week pilot program with one grower and one preschool in his district.
“During that two weeks, I sat with the kids, ate and talked,” Taylor said. “I knew then that this was something I was going to institutionalize.”
Those were the humble beginnings of what today is the National Farm to School Network, a program that brings food — a vast majority of which is fresh produce — from local farms to school children nationwide. What started as a few pilot programs in California and Florida in 1996-97 grew to about 400 by 2004 and 1,000 by 2007.
In 2009, there were more than 2,000 Farm to School programs in the U.S.