Ohio Days: My Plate, My State

Ohio Days: My Plate, My State is a Farm to School program in Franklin County, coordinated by Franklin County Public Health (FCPH). This program features one meal a month served in school cafeterias that is entirely grown, raised and/or processed in Ohio. This program envisions a school environment where children are served healthy, local, fresh foods in the cafeteria and learn about this food in their classrooms through experiential learning. As the Ohio Days program expands, we hope to provide students with;  (1) healthy, local fresh foods in the cafeteria, (2) opportunities for students to learn about local foods in the classroom, (3)and the knowledge of how food grows to empower informed and healthy food choices.  

In order for students to have opportunities to learn about the local foods in their cafeteria, teachers need curriculum, tools and resources to make the connection. In January 2020, Franklin County Public Health held seven focus groups with educators to identify the resources and support teachers need to effectively integrate farm to school activities into curriculums. Below is a summary of the focus group findings and major themes identified by the educators who participated:

Student Lack of Awareness or Knowledge of How Food Grows and Where Food Comes From:

  • Students living in food deserts have very little context or firsthand experience with food education
    • Limited availability to fresh fruits and vegetables 
    • Limited access to grocery stores

Importance of Food in the Classroom:

  • Teachers believe that food is essential to the classroom, there is a need for firsthand repetitive learning through every stage of growth, from farm to table
  • Food is an important tool as a motivator, and also for promoting socialization, and cultural awareness
  • Food education can be integrated into every lesson plan or subject, due to its central role in everyday life 

Barriers and Solutions to Teaching about Nutrition in the Classroom:

Lack of time to prepare and implement food/nutrition activities

  • Teachers partnered with groups specializing in nutrition and food education
  • Teachers need ready-to-use activity packages and off-the-shelf curriculum modules, that they can plug directly into the school day

Finding funding: 

  • Most of the food consumed in the classroom, additional materials, or curriculum initiatives come out of the Educators pockets
  • Teachers expressed that they need more access to additional funds, resources, and materials
  •  Teachers would love to take students on more field trips to local farms but money for transportation is frequently unavailable

Inconsistent Support:

  • support for new initiatives is frequently available, but differs from district to district 
  • Support is likely available if new projects/initiatives can be directly tied to learning goals and standards

Who We Serve

Farm to School cafeteria sign

Franklin County Public Health provides service to all of the townships and villages in Franklin County. In addition, 14 cities in Franklin County contract with our department to serve as their health department and provide comprehensive public health services to their residents.

Our Partners

The Ohio State University Extension Logo
Columbus Public Health logo
National Farm to School Network logo