California for All Kids

California’s Farm to School Program

First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom championed efforts to establish first-in-the-nation state funding for universal school meals for all public school children in California and led the work to develop the innovative California Farm to School initiative. Farm to School works in tandem with universal school meals to ensure more and more of California’s two free school meals are locally-sourced, delicious, and nutritious.

California Farm to School initiative is an interagency, multi-pronged effort to reimagine school meals while benefiting students, the environment, local farmers, and local economies. Farm to School is a win-win for California communities and will help support a more sustainable future in California.

Learn more about California Farm to School (PDF)

Farm to School logo

Why Farm to School?

Today, over 2 million children in California do not have access to healthy, whole foods, with Black and Latinx children reporting food insecurity twice that of children in white households. We know that schools are key sources of food for children — approximately 3.9 million California students were eligible for free or reduced-priced lunch during the 2019-2020 school year. Given California’s recent investment in universal school meals and its unparalleled agricultural production, the state is uniquely positioned to build a healthier, more equitable future through innovative farm to school programs, which help:

  • Increase food access and nutrition security.
  • Support local food purchasing from California producers.
  • Promote educational activities that use food as a teaching tool to connect classrooms, cafeterias, and communities.
  • Create experiential learning opportunities in school gardens, culinary classes, agricultural programs, and other hands-on learning experiences to help youth better understand the connections between food and the world around them.
  • Educate students about how they can be environmental stewards from the earliest of ages.
First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom discusses and presents cilantro with elementary school kids as they eat tacos.

Report: Planting the Seed

Building on her commitment to ensuring California children have the best start in life, First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom announced the release of a new report, Planting the Seed: Farm to School Roadmap for Success, in February 2022. The report highlights policy goals to advance child well-being, economic growth, environmental resilience, and racial equity through farm to school systems that connect children to locally sourced, whole foods and produce in cafeterias, classrooms, and gardens. The report and its recommendations are the result of a collaboration — led by First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom and California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross — among a number of state agency leaders, education professionals, and farm to school experts and practitioners.

farm visit

The benefits of
Farm to School

Healthy kids and vibrant communities start with farm-fresh, nutritious meals. Through farm to school programs, schools purchase food from local farms, offer students food education, and deliver hands-on learning opportunities that support students’ academic achievement, health, and wellbeing. Research shows that:

Farm to School photos

California investments in Farm to School

Under the leadership of First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom, Governor Newsom and the California State Legislature allocated $60 million over two years in the 2021-2022 state budget to sustain and expand the California Farm to School Incubator Grant Program, which connects local producers and school food buyers; increases food education in classrooms, gardens, and on farms; and engages schools and students with the agricultural community.

The 2022-2023 state budget strengthened this investment with an additional $30 million in funding for farm to school demonstration projects at priority, high-need schools, and includes $600 million in funding available over three years for school kitchen infrastructure upgrades and equipment, food service employee training, and compensation for work related to serving universal meals using more fresh, minimally processed California-grown foods.