The Burlington School Food Project
The Burlington School Food Project (BSFP) is Vermont’s largest Farm to School program (www.farmtoschool.org), encompassing the entire Burlington School District, and is widely recognized as a model program for the rest of the state and country. BSFP is a collaborative project of Burlington Schools Food Service, City Market/Onion River Co-op, Friends of Burlington Gardens/Healthy City Youth Initiative, Shelburne Farms’ Sustainable Schools Project and VT FEED (Food Education Every Day), in affiliation with the Burlington Food Council and the Burlington Legacy Project.
The district-wide effort employs a farm to school coordinator for its food service program and benefits from the varied input of multiple community partners and many dedicated community volunteers. Originally funded with a USDA Community Food Project Grant in 2003, the city has been able to continue and expand on the work past the grant’s original ending date of 2006.
BSFP connects students and their families with whole, fresh and local foods to improve their health and the health of our community.
- Build the capacity for Burlington to better meet the food needs of students;
- Increase awareness of and encourage healthy food choices for children and their families; and
- Improve Burlington School District access to food from local farms.
To reach these goals:
- We incorporate whole, fresh and local foods into school meals so that students have more opportunities to eat healthily and to practice healthy decision making.
- We educate students about food, farming and nutrition so that they have the understanding to make healthy food choices.
- We extend these opportunities to students’ families so that families can and will offer more opportunities to eat healthily at home.
- We help nurture the local food system so that we’re better able to provide whole, fresh and local foods for school meals. By doing so, we also improve the economic viability of local farms and farm-based businesses, and create opportunities for the Burlington community to make food decisions that enhance personal, economic and ecological health.
Check out the Resources page for Burlington School Food Project Assessments and Reports!
Each of the partners contributes an essential piece of this work:
- Burlington Schools Food Service cultivates relationships with farmers and expands the whole, fresh and local foods served in school meals.
- City Market/Onion River Co-op offers educational opportunities and provides member workers to assist with project tasks.
- Friends of Burlington Gardens/Healthy City Youth Initiative provides opportunities for youth to participate in farming and help process food for school meals.
- Shelburne Farms’ Sustainable Schools Project coordinates food, farming and nutrition education programs, including field trips to local farms.
- VT FEED provides technical assistance to food service staff to help make this possible.
If you would like to get involved or have any questions about the project, please contact Farm to School Coordinator, Bobby Young at firstname.lastname@example.org or 864-8415.
In addition to networking and member education, the Burlington Food Council provides direct support for and collaborates on projects that increase local food access and awareness and connect Burlington residents with their neighboring farmers.
Mobile Vegetable Farm Stands
The Association of Africans Living in Vermont’s New Farms for New Americans program is working to establish mobile vegetable stands in and around the City of Burlington, particularly at public housing complexes. The Burlington Food Council has provided support for grant applications and is helping to build momentum for this project.
The City’s Climate Action Plan
Burlington’s City Council first voted to participate in the “Cities for Climate Protection” campaign in 1996. Since then, the city has passed multiple resolutions aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The first Climate Action Plan was adopted in 2000 and is viewable on the City’s Climate Action Plan website:
The Council is participating in current Climate Action Plan strategies by providing feedback and guidance about action steps. We also hope to spearhead a public education campaign about the connections between food and climate change in conjunction with the City and the Legacy Project.
There are many environmental, social and economic benefits to increasing access to fruit and nut bearing trees and shrubs in urban areas. They can act as carbon sinks, help recycle water, improve diet and bring neighbors together. There are risks as well, such as potential pest problems, maintenance and clean up and the viability of plants in low quality urban soils.
The Burlington Food Council is working with partners to create an actionable plan for fruit and nut tree mapping, planting and maintenance for the City of Burlington.
For more information about urban fruit tree programs around the country, see the Resources page.