Farm to School Coordinator in Arkansas

At a Glance:

Location: Arkansas

Date: 2017

Vital Condition: Basic Needs for Health and Safety, Lifelong Learning

Determinants of Health: nutrition, food access, education, physical activity, nutrition

Affected Population: Children and Youth

Research Methods: stakeholder_interviews, secondary, Primary research, Literature review

Community Types: urban, suburban, rural

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The Childhood Obesity Prevention Research Program at Arkansas Children’s Research Institute, with technical assistance from Upstream Public Health, conducted an HIA to examine the potential impacts of a state farm-to-school (F2S) coordinator position on the health of the state’s public school students. As of 2017, nearly 1 in 4 Arkansas kindergarteners were overweight or obese, and the same proportion was food insecure. Research shows that F2S programs help to increase access to fresh foods in schools and early childhood education settings. The HIA found some evidence that a coordinator would moderately increase school participation in F2S programs in Arkansas.

The HIA relied on existing data and input from local experts and community members to develop recommendations for state decision-makers, which included:

  • Facilitating a F2S leadership team composed of key state agencies, child health and nutrition organizations, and other stakeholders to coordinate F2S activities across the state.
  • Commissioning an analysis of the economic development potential of F2S programs in Arkansas.
  • Developing a system for collecting local produce purchasing data to track sales growth and its impacts on the local economy.
  • Providing farmers who are interested in growing specialty crops with training on season extension techniques and equipment and information about markets and food safety certification.

The Arkansas Biosciences Institute funded the HIA.

This Health Impact Assessment Report first appeared in The Cross-Sector Toolkit for Health. The Cross-Sector Toolkit for Health was originally developed by the Health Impact Project, formerly a collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts. The creation of this resource was supported by a grant from the Health Impact Project. The views expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Pew Charitable Trusts, or the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

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