Lexington preschool becomes Kentucky’s first with a farm-to-school food program

About 20 years from now, today’s preschoolers will be purchasing and preparing their own food. What if they spent 13 years in an educational setting that taught farm-to-school practices? Children who represent the next generation would learn not only to eat healthy food but also to support local food systems, state Farm to School Program coordinator Tina Garland told Cerise Bouchard of Lexington Family Magazine.

This year, Growing Together Preschool in Lexington became the first Farm to Preschool program facilitated by the state Department of Agriculture. Bouchard returned to GTP in July 2013 as the executive director with the goal of improving the menu by working with a farm to provide community-supported agriculture.

When Bouchard told Garland about her idea, Garland connected her with Lazy Eight Stock Farm and Carla Bauman, who told the magazine, “I am excited about being part of a project that encourages young children to like eating fresh fruits and vegetables while their food preferences are still forming.” Bauman said the the GTP project also will give the students’ families weekly access to fresh, local, organic produce.

Childhood obesity rates in Kentucky are very high, and many children eat most of their meals in school, Bouchard writes. Instead of exacerbating the problem, schools have an opportunity to improve the health of children. GTP’s focus has always been on quality improvement initiatives, and “Implementation of the Farm to School program is simply the next step to ensuring that we are making the best decisions to improve and support the development of the whole child,” Bouchard writes.

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