Farm to School

The Center for Environmental Farming Systems partners with many North Carolina partners to serve in strengthening farm to school work in NC, and is dedicated to supporting future food system leaders and promoting racial equity in local food systems and schools.

Within CEFS’ mission is to build a healthier food system across North Carolina, and we believe that community-driven efforts are the heart of improving the health and wellness for children and communities. We also believe that structural efforts and policy support can aid communities in making their programs work to the benefit of all those they serve. We aim to contribute to the multitude of efforts, large and small, across NC to make all schools places that nurture healthy food cultures.

Farm to School in NC

Beginning in 1997, North Carolina was one of the first states to incorporate a statewide farm to school initiative that sources NC-grown produce for school meals. Today, the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Farm to School Program reaches over 1 million children across the entire state, serving over a million pounds of locally-grown produce each year. NC also has a Farm to School Coalition of NC (F2SCNC), bringing together a dedicated group of farm to school (F2S) stakeholders that collaborate to expand and strengthen farm to school initiatives across the state.

Despite this, there are many challenges to overcome. Twenty-seven percent of children in North Carolina are designated as food insecure. Racial inequity and poverty plague our state and country and are root causes of child hunger and food insecurity. We recognize that in order for children to be healthy and well-fed, communities must be engaged to address issues of education and access. Our partners in Farm to School—the Department of Instruction, the NC Department of Agriculture, the department of Health, Cooperative Extension and its county offices, non-profit organizations, school nutrition services, farmers, parents, and many others—work collectively to build on the local knowledge of folks already on the ground doing change-making work.

CEFS is a founding member and an active member of the steering committee in the Farm to School Coalition of NC and Tes Thraves also serves as the NC core partner and a peer mentor for the National Farm to School Network.

As a response to COVID-19

As a response to COVID-19 have two response efforts through farm to school partnerships:

Through the Farm to School Coalition of NC, we will offer up to 21 LEAs $4,000 in funding to support urgent need and long term capacity building for

  • local food purchasing for school meals or student connection to local food/farmers, and/or

  • local foods educational programming (gardens, cooking, other education efforts) in ways that increase the skills, knowledge, and connection to local foods for children and their families

To learn more or to apply, read the full project description.


NC State Extension offices have worked with local partners to distribute seed packs and start guides to families with kids at home during school closures. Numerous School Nutrition directors are reporting great support from their 4-H and Extension offices and are happy to have seeds added to meal distribution! Learn more about Seed Sharing during COVID-19 school closures.

Partner Contacts


CEFS Farm to School News

Eighteen Local Education Agencies Awarded Farm-to-School Rapid Response Funding

June 1st, 2020|Comments Off on Eighteen Local Education Agencies Awarded Farm-to-School Rapid Response Funding

Eighteen local education agencies (LEAs) were recently awarded Farm-to-School Rapid Response funding by the Farm to School Coalition of North Carolina. The funding is intended to support urgent needs and long-term capacity building for local [...]

Outreach Extension Assistant

July 17th, 2018|Comments Off on Outreach Extension Assistant

The primary purpose of this Outreach Extension Assistant position is to provide broad support of the outreach efforts of CEFS' Farm to School (F2S) Initiatives and the Farm to School Coalition of NC.