Ventura County Farm to School History
Ventura County Farm to School (VCF2S) began in 2012 as an effort led by five school food service directors at Ventura Unified School District, Rio School District, Ojai Unified School District, Hueneme Elementary School District and Oxnard Elementary School District. These directors began collaborating to meet their collective meal planning, procurement, training, and nutrition education goals. In 2013, a two year USDA Farm to School grant enabled them to work with local farmers and produce vendors to increase the amount of fresh local produce served in school cafeterias. At this time, additional farmers, educators and community organizations joined to help meet collective goals.
In 2014, a CDFA Specialty Crop Block Grant allowed this collaborative to continue and deepen their local food procurement work and to significantly increase nutrition and agricultural education programs in participating school districts. VCF2S currently represents more than 50% of the schoolchildren in Ventura County and is continually growing. In 2017, Ocean View School District and Oxnard Union High School District began partnering closely with VCF2S, which expanded the reach to a total of seven school districts.
In 2018, Mesa Union joined as a pilot program in which students act as nutrition teachers. VCF2S is connecting tens of thousands of kids and families to local farmers and locally grown fruits and vegetables through creative programming each year such as whole food cooking classes, Harvest of the Month tasting lessons, healthy school meals, cafeteria salad bars featuring local produce, farm field trips and school farms and gardens.
Goals & Reach
The goals of VCF2S are to advocate for and support the implementation of:
- Healthy, local food sourcing for school meals.
- Nutrition education, whole food cooking, and agricultural education in school and after-school programs.
- School garden and farm education programs.
VCF2S serves the schoolchildren of Ventura County, including the school districts of Oxnard Elementary, Rio, Hueneme, Ventura, Ojai, Oxnard Union High and Ocean View.
Collectively these districts represent a majority of the schoolchildren in Ventura County, including most of the schools in Oxnard, Hueneme, Santa Paula, Fillmore, and Ventura, where over 80% of the students are eligible for free and reduced school meals. Ten school districts have been involved in VCF2S activities, and the organization looks forward to expanding it reach to all school districts in the county over the coming years.
Learn more about our Ventura County Farm to School collaborative!