Supporting farm to schoolprogramming in Oregon

As part of a state-wide network of advocates, we work to ensure the viability of Oregon's Farm to School and School Garden grant program, which supports local purchasing, in-classroom learning, and accessing to critical infrastructure for producers.

In 2021, Oregon renewed its commitment to supporting farm to school and school garden programming throughout the state. These funds are critical resources for Oregon schools to buy and serve Oregon foods; for districts and partner organizations to provide agriculture, nutrition, and garden-based educational activities; and for producers to meet the needs of schools as buyers.

In 2019, the Legislature increased its support for farm to school activities support from $4.5 million to nearly $15 million. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, those funds were threatened. After a state-wide effort that activated dozens of partners, and enlisted support from schools, food businesses, and advocates from across the state, legislators voted to allocate $10.2 million to the program.

A history of hard-won success

Through wide-ranging partnerships, farm to school and school garden programs have grown. But it didn’t happen over night. It has taken the state more than a decade to advance to where it is today.

2006: The Oregon Farm to School and School Garden Network is formed

2007: Oregon creates a “Farm to School” position in the Oregon Department of Agriculture

2008: A parallel position is created in the Oregon Department of Education, making Oregon the first state in the country to support this program through positions in two state agencies.

2011: A Farm to School and School Garden grant program is created for school districts, starting with a small pilot funding amount of $200,000.

2013: Grant funding is expanded for school districts by $1,000,000, to a total of $1.2 million for 2013-15, allocation funding to 21 school districts around the state to buy local foods and to provide “food-based, agriculture based and garden-based educational activities.”

2015: Funding is expanded again, this time to a total of $4.5 million for 2015-17.

2017: Advocates and practitioners throughout the state rallied to keep Farm to School and School Garden grant funding in the Oregon state budget. HB 2038, championed by Representative Brian Clem, passed with unanimous support in both the House and the Senate, preserving $4.5 million in funding for the statewide Farm to School and School Garden grant program for the coming two-year budget cycle.

2019: HB 2579 passed with unanimous support in both the House and the Senate, increasing farm to school and school garden funding from $4.5 million to $15 million. The new legislation includes early $5 million in recurring funding for Oregon Department of Education to continue their programming.

2020: With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Farm to School grant funds are in threat of being eliminated.

2021: In June 2021 the Oregon legislators voted  to approve $10.2 million in funding for Oregon’s Farm to School Grant Program, with all grant programs intact, and indicate that this level is sustainable into the future. 


What our partners are saying

“We should always be using tax dollars to buy local. It never made sense to me to buy apples from anywhere else than right here in Oregon. This program connects our schools and children to our most important industry: agriculture. It’s Oregon farmers feeding Oregon’s children. There are a lot of people to thank for their work on Farm to School over the years, but Speaker Kotek and Rep. Nathanson really went to bat for us last session. We wouldn’t have a Farm to School program without their help, plain and simple.”
— Representative Brian Clem

“Oregon should be the best place for ensuring students have access to nutritious meals at school so they can learn, grow, and flourish. A student who has a healthy breakfast and lunch at school is more likely to have better attendance, graduate high school, and be fully present and ready to learn in the classroom. Farm to School helps make that happen.”
— Matt Newell-Ching, Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon

“At a time of so many hard choices in our state budget, FoodCorps is thrilled to see the Oregon legislature investing in farm to school programming and the dividends it will bring for our kids, our farmers and ranchers, and our communities. This commitment will strengthen Oregon’s farm economy, while helping to ensure that children across the state are well-nourished and ready to learn.”
— Curt Ellis, FoodCorps

“Farm to school is a win, win, win! Farmers win, kids win and communities win.”
— Megan Kemple, Oregon Farm to School and School Garden Network

“I really don’t think there’s anything greater than feeding kids good food. That’s what this farm to school bill is all about. We want to make sure our kids have the best. That means both in what they eat, having the nutrition for their brains to learn, but also the environment that they live in, and the economy of that environment.”
— Lola Milholland, Umi Organic


Farm to School and School Garden advocacy efforts in the news

OPB Think Out Loud
School Lunch

The Clatskanie Chief
New bill would support school gardens, farm-to-school programs

The St. Helens Chronicle
New bill supports school gardens

Capital Press
Lawmakers approve Oregon farmland easement fund

Jefferson Public Radio

Farm To School Funding Held Up In Oregon

Bandon Western World
Farm to School: Fifth-graders learn how food gets to their tables

Lebanon Local
Rick George: Teacher’s vision propagates a harvest of change

Blue Mountain Eagle
Farm to School funding hangs in the balance

Celebrate Oregon Agriculture: Farm to School Programs

Portland Tribune
$5.6 million for Oregon farm-to-school funding passes key committee

Capital Press
$5.6 million for Oregon farm-to-school passes key committee

Press Releases

Oregon Legislature Votes Unanimously to Preserve Farm to School and School Garden Funding

Statewide effort to keep farm to school and school garden funding in place takes important next step


Yes on Farm to School and School Gardens
From the Willamette Valley to Curry County, farms, schools and kids are benefiting from Farm to School and School Garden Grants.

Bend-La Pine Students Go Whole Hog
Wellness Specialist Katrina Wiest sees program’s positive effects on farmers, students

Farm to School Funds Help Parkdale Orchard Sell More Fruit
Randy Kiyokawa sees multiple benefits from working with public schools

Additional resources

Farm to School Counts was built by Ecotrust on behalf of the Oregon Farm to School and School Garden Network (OFSSGN) to track progress and measure success for the farm to school movement in Oregon.

Video: A School District Unites Around Food
Welcome to the Salem-Keizer School District in Oregon, where 40,000 students are eating more healthy, local food and learning in school gardens, cafeterias, and classrooms. Meet our diverse team of partners who brought this farm to school program to life.

The Impact of Seven Cents (2011)
Examining the effects of a $.07 per meal investment on local economic development, lunch participation rates, and student preferences for fruits and vegetables in two Oregon school districts.

The Benefits of Farm to School
English | Spanish
A summary of the data from the National Farm to School Network illustrating the many benefits of farm to school — from economic development to public health, education, environment, and community engagement.

Farm to School Advocacy
English | Spanish
A fact sheet from the National Farm to School Network offering ideas on how to get involved in shaping and advocating for policies that support farm to school.