This Issue Update newsletter is part of a series that provides more information on each priority issue on the Alliance's 2020 Legislative Agenda. The Legislative Agenda is crafted annually in partnership with early childhood organizations that are advancing legislative policy solutions related to health, safety, food security, economic security, and early care and education. The 12 priority issues were selected by the Alliance's 21 member Steering Committee.
Farm to School and Early Childhood
Vermont Farm to School is a nationally recognized initiative that supports Vermont’s economy, communities, and healthy development and learning for Vermont’s children. In 2017, Act 63, the Farm to School bill, was signed into law allowing both registered and licensed child care providers to be eligible for Vermont Farm to School grants. The Alliance supports Vermont FEED, Hunger Free Vermont, and champion organizations in their efforts to fully fund Farm to School and Early Childhood at $500,000 each year. An increase of $309,000 in state funds will ensure we reach this goal, and support early childhood programs and K-3 classrooms in accessing Farm to School and Early Childhood programming.
Continue reading for more information on this priority issue, including data and talking points, connections to the lead organizations and other partners, and advocacy tools.
Data and Talking Points
The Farm to School Grants program has engaged over 50,000 Vermont students since 2007. Forty-five Early Childhood programs have received grants in the last few years.
4 out of 5 schools in Vermont have at least some form of Farm to School activity.
Every dollar spent on local food contributes an additional 60 cents to the local economy.
Farm to School and Early Childhood Day at the State House
On Wednesday, February 12, concerned citizens, school children, early childhood educators, farmers, and food service providers gathered at the State House for Farm to School and Early Childhood Day at the State House.
Powerful testimony was delivered in committee hearings throughout the day. Students from Berlin (pictured above) and Cabot joined teachers, farmers, and others, including representatives from the Rutland County Parent Child Center, Northshire Day School, and Bennington County Head Start, in expressing their support for the Farm to School Program. Camryn Hoffman, an eighth grader from Cabot School, said that Farm to School “helped our students learn about the benefits of nutritious local foods impacting our health and our community.”
Statistics About Vermont Schools
Nourishing Children's Bodies and Minds
Vermont Farm to School has been shown to influence eating habits, create healthy lifestyles, support experiential learning opportunities, improve healthy food access, support teachers’ knowledge of nutrition, and address childhood obesity. As Vermont works to provide high quality early childhood services, as many children as possible should receive the benefits of the farm to school program – access to healthy foods, food and nutrition education, and community connections.
Write a Letter to the Editor: Have a story you'd like to share about what Farm to School means to you? Want to motivate others to join the effort to expand our programs? You can write a letter to the editor of your local daily and weekly papers to expand public knowledge of the importance of Farm to School and gain press attention for this important issue in your town and region. Tips for writing a letter to the editor can be found here.
Schedule an Advocacy Training
Schedule an Alliance training for a group of early childhood professionals, providers, parents, or employers interested in strengthening their advocacy skills or learning more about the issues on the Alliance’s Legislative Agenda. Be informed and ensure your voice is heard on issues impacting Vermont's young children and families.
The Vermont Early Childhood Advocacy Alliance is a statewide coalition formed in 2000 of early childhood professionals, parents, organizations, businesses, and strategic partners committed to improving public policies that impact young children between birth and age eight in the areas of health, safety, food security, economic security, and early care and education.
The Alliance crafts an annual Legislative Agenda in partnership with early childhood organizations, provides year-round advocacy support, and facilitates meaningful interactions with policymakers at key times during the decision making process.