Monday, October 2, 2023

Making local food part of education in South Dakota

October is Farm to School Month, and with South Dakota’s deep agricultural roots, there’s no better place to celebrate.

The South Dakota Department of Education’s (DOE) Child and Nutrition Services (CANS) is working to help schools make local food a part of education for South Dakota’s kids. The Farm to School effort seeks to bring together agricultural producers and education providers for three main purposes: 

  • to educate children on where food comes from and the benefits of eating local food, 
  • to maintain strong connections between youth and agriculture, and
  • to offer opportunities for local producers and those involved in food programs to network and find opportunities to educate and feed our students with food grown in South Dakota.

Educators have lots of opportunities to be involved in Farm to School. Their curriculum, especially in science and math, can incorporate local foods. There are educational opportunities for students from preschool to high school. Field trips, tasting activities, cooking classes, in-school gardens, and school visits from farmers and master gardeners are just some of the ways that educators can teach youth about food production.

Farm to School is a win-win for students/schools, producers, and the community.

Ultimately, South Dakota’s Farm to School efforts will be successful when school cafeteria food comes as much as possible from producers within the state, and those eating the food understand and appreciate the hard work of those South Dakota farmers and ranchers who grow the food that the world consumes.

Earlier this summer, a group of stakeholders helped to develop goals for growing Farm to School in South Dakota. See the results of their work.

Janelle Peterson
Child and Adult Nutrition Services, South Dakota Department of Education