Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Farm to School Census and Comprehensive Review

Publication Date
Resource type
Research
Research type
Assessing/Improving Operations
General/Other
Nutrition Education
Nutrition Education and Promotion
Promoting Healthy Eating

The Farm to School Census and Comprehensive Review includes the 2019 Farm to School Census; a descriptive review of the USDA Farm to School grant program; a review of published research on farm to school since 2010; and a set of interviews with school food distributors. 

The Farm to School Census and Comprehensive Review Summary Report describes the components of the Farm to School Census and Comprehensive Review and synthesizes key findings from the reports listed below.

The 2019 Farm to School Census reached out to all public and private school food authorities (SFAs) that participated in the National School Lunch Program in SY 2018-19. The 2019 Farm to School Census Report summarizes findings from the 2019 Census and compares across SFA characteristics such as size, eligibility rates for free and reduced-price lunch, and urbanicity.

Key findings include:

  • About two-thirds of all SFAs (65 percent) participated in one or more farm to school activities in SY 2018-2019.
  • Approximately half of SFAs engaged in farm to school (46 percent) participated in seven or more distinct farm to school activities.
  • Over half of SFAs participating in farm to school activities (57 percent) had done so for fewer than three years.
  • Local foods accounted for an estimated 20 percent of overall food purchases by F2S SFAs, excluding entitlement spending.

Census findings, including state- and SFA-level results, are also available on the USDA Farm to School Census website.

The Farm to School Literature Review report summarizes findings from a review of published research on Farm to School since 2010. The Literature Review synthesized current findings and analyzed gaps in available knowledge and data related to:

  1. Farm to School policy and funding at the state and local level;
  2. Farm to School activities, their impact on students, and characteristics of participating school food authorities;
  3. Local food procurement practices and challenges; and
  4. The impact of farm to school spending on the local economy.

Appendix E of the Farm to School Literature Review report summarizes findings from interviews with school food distributors conducted in 2019.

The Farm to School Grantee Report analyzes baseline, progress and final reports submitted to FNS by 365 grantees who received Farm to School grant awards in fiscal years 2013–2017. It provides an assessment of Farm to School grantee efforts nationwide, focusing on grantee-reported achievements, challenges, and lessons learned. Key findings include:

  • Grantees implemented a range of activities focused on local foods, including using school garden produce in school meals and cooking from scratch, and reported an increase in school and school district policies supporting farm to school efforts over the course of the grant.
  • Almost all grantees reported that their partner schools served local foods in their cafeterias, though definitions of “local" varied by school or district.
  • Among grantees, 91 percent reported that grant funds were sufficient for meeting the project goals.
07/15/2021