Section 18 of the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act authorized and funded USDA to establish a farm to school program in order to assist eligible entities, through grants and technical assistance, in implementing farm to school programs that improve food and agriculture education as well as access to local foods in schools. This work is housed within the FNS Office of Community Food Systems (OCFS). As part of the Farm to School Program's authorization, OCFS collects and disseminates information on farm to school activity throughout the country. OCFS conducted a national census of farm to school activity in 2013, 2015 and 2019. The Farm to School Census provides the only nationally-representative data available on farm to school participation and activities in the United States.
The 2023 Farm to School Census (Census) will collect and synthesize data from a national census of SFAs to better understand the characteristics of SFAs participating in farm to school and the scope and details of the activities they engage in (e.g., local food procurement, gardening, agriculture education). The Census will be distributed to all public and private SFAs (including residential child care institutions) participating in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) in the 50 states, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Washington, DC.