|Title:||2023 Farm to School Census.|
|Type of Request:||Revision of a currently approved collection.|
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.
The primary mode of data collection will be an online survey, distributed to SFA directors. (SFA directors will also have the option to complete the survey over the phone.) The online survey is expected to take 30 minutes to complete. Census questions will be based on prior Farm to School Census instruments, from the iterations conducted in 2019 (the currently approved collection, OMB Number 0584-0646), 2015 (OMB Number 0584-0593), and 2013 (OMB Number 0536-0069). Questions will be removed, added or adjusted based on current research interests and to make the instrument as streamlined as possible.
To construct the contact list for the Census, state child nutrition (CN) directors will be sent a list of all SFAs in their state or territory, based on the most recently available FNS data. They will be asked to (1) add or remove any SFAs that have begun or ended participation in the NSLP and (2) provide contact information for the director of each SFA. State CN directors will also be asked to forward a notification email and two email reminders about the Census to SFAs. Directors of state agriculture departments will also be sent one email to notify them of the Census and request their assistance in encouraging SFAs in their state to complete it.
Non-respondents will receive a reminder phone call and up to ten reminder emails. Phone calls, during which SFAs will have the opportunity to complete the Census over the phone, will be conducted by trained interviewers. Staff will also be available for technical and completion assistance via a toll-free phone number.