Missouri SNAP-Ed works in partnership with State agencies and other partners to strengthen Missouri’s local food systems.
Farm-to-school and other food system efforts balance supply and demand across a complex network of producers and consumers. It is important for schools and other institutions to be able to have a stable supply of foods to purchase. It is also important for food producers to have buyers that are eager to purchase the foods they grow.
About 1 in 4 school districts (25%) in Missouri serve locally grown fruits or vegetables on a regular basis, according to the USDA Farm to School census data. Only 1 in 8 districts (13%) regularly serve local protein (SNAP-Ed Evaluation Indicator MT8). There is room for growth in including more locally grown produce and proteins in school food service.
Missouri SNAP-Ed and its partners help to strengthen local food systems. One way is by connecting schools and other institutions with local food producers that are looking for new markets to sell their products.
In Fiscal Year (FY) 2022, a series of seven regional listening sessions were held in collaboration with USDA Farm to Child Nutrition Programs in Missouri. These listening sessions brought agricultural producers and school food service personnel together. Attendees were able to connect and talk about opportunities to work together to feed more Missouri-grown foods to students.
SNAP-Ed works with more than 500 school and community gardens across Missouri. Food tastings connected with these gardens help SNAP-Ed participants develop a taste for fresh produce. Nutrition education classes help participants learn how to safely grow, harvest, and prepare the foods.
These efforts are important for building a strong local food system. In FY 2022, nearly half (46%) of the gardens SNAP-Ed worked with provided produce to participants. More than a quarter of the gardens (28%) donated produce to a food pantry or incorporated the garden produce into school food service. These efforts were strengthened through additional funding from the Missouri Department of Social Services. This funding supplied community gardens with supplies such as hand tools, raised beds, and rain barrels.
Missouri SNAP-Ed is not alone in this work. State agency partners include the Missouri Department of Agriculture, the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, and the Missouri Department of Social Services. Additionally, some of this work is accomplished through the Missouri Council for Activity and Nutrition’s food systems work group.
For more information, please contact Tracy Minnis, MU Extension Farm-to-School and Local Foods Coordinator
Or visit https://extension.missouri.edu/programs/missouri-farm-to-school
Partner agency websites:
Missouri Department of Agriculture
Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
Missouri Department of Social Services
University of Missouri Extension SNAP-Ed
USDA Patrick Leahy Farm to School Program