Farm to School Leadership Team Formation


On paper, Arkansas has all the necessary components of farm to school.  The Natural State houses millions of acres of farmland, over a thousand public schools scattered across even the most rural areas of the Mississippi Delta, and dozens of organizations already promoting farm to school practices.  If a book were written about Farm to School in Arkansas, the ending would seem obvious.  So what’s been holding back the program’s progression? Until recently, it lacked the most important aspect to achieve any statewide goal: Unity.

The Arkansas Farm to School Leadership Team first gathered in August of 2017.  The Access to Healthy Foods Research Group at Arkansas Children’s Research Institute saw a need to broaden the existing connections between organizations to support the continuous development that farm to school needs.  These supporting organizations include a few that one might not initially expect, but whose contributions keep farm to school alive.

Nick Stevens

Nick Stevens, MPH Candidate


A part of Nicholas Stevens’s Capstone Project for his Master of Public Service from the Clinton School of Public Service, the Leadership Team consists of representatives from several major state agencies such as the Department of Human Services, Arkansas Agriculture Department, the Minority Health Commission, and the Department of Health.  Each agency is already invested in farm to school and its continuous development in various ways, so the next logical step was to assemble a team to foster collaboration between them to cover all the bases and to create a strong platform to provide resources and promote farm to school in Arkansas.

Leadershhip Team Meeting

Coordinating this many individuals for monthly meetings requires patience and compromise, however.  “Having so many people makes it very time-consuming to agree upon a common vision and agenda,” says Stevens, who has been facilitating the gatherings.  Set to graduate this spring, Nick will say goodbye to the Leadership Team but hopes they can continue without him to work together to have state and regional farm to school conferences and build a more formal farm to school network in the state.  The end goal is to promote farm to school with one united voice that carries into the future. 

Books can be read more quickly when everyone is on the same page.

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