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Agriculture and Human Values

, Volume 35, Issue 1, pp 193–206 | Cite as

Farm to school in British Columbia: mobilizing food literacy for food sovereignty

Article

Abstract

Farm to school programs have been positioned as interventions that can support goals of the global food sovereignty movement, including strengthening local food production systems, improving food access and food justice for urban populations, and reducing distancing between producers and consumers. However, there has been little assessment of how and to what extent farm to school programs can actually function as a mechanism leading to the achievement of food sovereignty. As implemented in North America, farm to school programs encompass activities not only related to school food procurement, but also to the development of student knowledge and skills under the framework of food literacy. Research on farm to school initiatives has largely been conducted in countries with government-supported national school feeding programs; this study examines farm to school organizing in Canada, where there is no national student nutrition program. Using qualitative fieldwork and document analysis, we investigate the farm to school movement in British Columbia, in a context where civil society concerns related to education and health have been the main vectors of farm to school mobilization. Our analysis suggests that, despite limited institutional infrastructure for school meals, the British Columbia farm to school movement has contributed toward realizing goals of food sovereignty through two main mechanisms: advocacy for institutional procurement of local and sustainable foods and mobilizing food literacy for increased public engagement with issues of social justice and equity in food systems.

Keywords

Food sovereignty Food literacy Farm to school 

Abbreviations

BC

British Columbia

BCAITC

British Columbia Agriculture in the Classroom

BCMA

British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture

BCME

British Columbia Ministry of Education

BCMH

British Columbia Ministry of Health

BCMHLS

British Columbia Ministry of Healthy Living and Sport

BCSFVNP

British Columbia School Fruit and Vegetable Nutrition Program

CBO

Congressional Budget Office

CHSF

Coalition for Healthy School Food

EYSP

Edible Schoolyard Project

F2SGV

Farm to School Greater Vancouver

F2SVA

Farm to School Vancouver Area Regional Hub

G8

Group of Eight Industrialized Nations

HGSF

Home-Grown School Feeding Program

OME

Ontario Ministry of Education

NGO

Non-governmental Organization

PHABC

Public Health Association of British Columbia

USDA

United States Department of Agriculture

USDA FNS

United States Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service

VSB

Vancouver School Board

Notes

Acknowledgements

We are grateful for research assistance from Winie Vasconcelos and Ricardo Barbosa, and farm to school program support from Vanessa Perrodou and Amber Cowie. This research was partially funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the Public Health Association of British Columbia.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Sustainable Food SystemsUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  2. 2.Agriburban Research CentreUniversity of the Fraser ValleyAbbotsfordCanada
  3. 3.Institute for Resources, Environment and SustainabilityUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada

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