Farm to School seeks nonprofit status to expand food access

·2 min read

Jul. 18—What started as a pilot initiative to provide locally grown produce to students could be the next nonprofit in Frederick County.

Farm to School Frederick, or F2S, was born out of the nonprofit Community FARE (Food, Advocacy, Resources, Education) in 2018.

With the help of a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant, Community FARE partnered with Frederick County Public Schools with a goal of getting local produce into five schools with a high percentage of students receiving free or reduced-price meals, according to Alysia Mason Feuer, Farm to School Frederick's executive director.

Since then, the program's work has expanded to include nutritional education, field trips and community meetings. Its mission is important to Feuer, a registered dietician and master gardener.

"We really want to support local farmers and agriculture and help people connect to understanding the seasons in which food is grown and how to prepare those foods for the benefit of health and well being," Feuer said.

Last week, Farm to School submitted its application to the Internal Revenue Service to be recognized as a nonprofit, Feuer said. It can take up to a year to hear back, she said.

Feuer believes nonprofit status would help Farm to School secure grant funding and expand its network of partners.

"We really do want to serve as that connector," she said.

Farm to School works with 13 farms to get locally grown fruits and vegetables into FCPS schools, according to Feuer. Farm to School serves North Frederick, Butterfly Ridge, Monocacy, Waverley, Lincoln, Hillcrest and Sabillasville elementary schools and Thurmont Primary, she said.

"By serving as the intermediary between growers and schools, F2S fostered new partnerships between Frederick farmers and the school and scaled up local fruit and vegetable purchases to $81,109 in the 2021-2022 school year," Farm to School's website said.

Feuer said Farm to School has the potential to do more for the community. She hopes it can expand to middle and high schools through the food science, FFA and culinary arts programs. She said the organization has talked to Frederick Health to see if the hospital's cafeteria can source local produce.

Farm to School's website, f2sfrederick.org, contains recipes, resources for teachers and newsletters full of nutrition facts and other helpful tips. And a mobile kitchen may be in the future, Feuer said, so Farm to School can teach local residents how to prepare seasonal food.

"We're trying to help connect all of this," she said.

Follow Mary Grace Keller on Twitter: @MaryGraceKeller