Ohio State University Extension will host a statewide Farm to School conference on March 13 with the goal of continuing to get more fresh, locally grown and produced foods into more school cafeterias.

The conference is part of an effort to continue expanding the successful Farm to School program, which works to increase students’ access to healthy foods and to help them learn more about food, health, nutrition and agriculture. It will take place at the Nationwide and Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Center, 2201 Fred Taylor Dr., Columbus. More than 250 farmers, producers, educators, school food service professionals, business leaders and OSU Extension experts are expected to attend.

“The dynamic part of this conference is that it brings together all types of leaders involved in making pre-K through college Farm to School programs work across the state,” said Julie Fox, director of Ohio State’s Farm to School program.

The conference theme is “Let’s Connect Farm to School,” and will feature keynote presentations, 10 breakout sessions, a curriculum showcase and other displays designed to showcase opportunities farmers, schools and community leaders have to work together to increase students' access to healthy foods.

There also will be networking opportunities.

Sessions are:

  • School Food Procurement, Opportunities for Food Service Buyers and Ohio Farmers
  • Forming Farm to School Partnerships
  • Food Safety
  • School Gardens
  • Finding Farm to School Funding and Resources
  • Why Farm to School
  • Marketing Farm to School

“The objective of the conference is to provide education for those interested in initiating or expanding a Farm to School program and to provide connections to build and strengthen program networks,” Fox said. “The conference is also designed to support participants as they make a difference in their communities and to provide opportunities to unite professionals and their perspectives on food, health or agriculture.”

In addition to providing young people with fresh, local food, Farm to School also helps them understand where their food comes from and how food choices affect their health, environment and community.

The Farm to School Advisory Group is finalizing conference details and accepting conference sponsors. Registration information will be available on the conference website at http://go.osu.edu/FarmToSchool

Farm to School is a national program, led in Ohio by OSU Extension and supported by numerous agencies, foundations and industry organizations.

For more information on Ohio’s Farm to School program, visit http://farmtoschool.osu.edu