The Arkansas Farm to School Collaborative and other state agency and nonprofit partners collaborated to create the Arkansas COVID-19 Food Access Map. The food access map provides a comprehensive list of 1,400 data points detailing information on farms, local businesses, restaurants, and pantries. The map also shows which schools and organizations are offering free meals while schools are closed.
In 2019, the Arkansas Farm to School Collaborative and the Arkansas Department of Agriculture hosted the Arkansas Farm to School Celebration at the Capitol. Partners, teachers, legislators, and students attended the event.
This bill established that the school wellness policies may include language promoting school gardens. It also described that the Arkansas Department of Agriculture may provide a local incentive program at public school districts and open-enrollment public charter schools in an amount not to exceed ten cents ($.10) for each school meal that uses local farm or food products.
In 2005, Fayetteville School District became the first school district to develop a farm to school program and began procuring local products to serve to its students.
In 2020, the Arkansas Department of Agriculture moved into the role of Core Partner for NFSN and ACRI shifted from Core Partner to Supporting Partner. The other Supporting Partners remained the same and the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service (UADA) hired a Local Food Specialist who spends half their time focused on farm to school efforts in three regions of the state.
In 2019, farm to school leaders from Arkansas travelled to Washington D.C. to speak with U.S. Senator John Boozman and U.S. Senator Tom Cotton. Ally Mrachek with Fayetteville School District and Maegan Brown with Conway Public Schools visited Senator Cotton to share about their child nutrition farm to school efforts. Second, Destiny Schlinker with FoodCorps met with Senator Boozman to talk about the Kids Eat Local Act.
Through the passage of Act 506 in 2019, the Arkansas legislature established a Farm to School and Early Childhood Education Program and a position for a full-time Farm to School and Early Childhood Education Program Coordinator within the Arkansas Department of Agriculture.
Legislation enacted by the Arkansas General Assembly in 2017 and 2019 solidified the momentum of farm to school in Arkansas. The passage of the Local Food, Farms, and Jobs Act (Local Food Act) in 2017 created a local food preference by requiring state agencies that received at least $25,000 in state funding for the purchase of food products to set a goal to ensure that 10 percent of the food budget was spent on local farm and food products in the first year. The goal increased to 20 percent in subsequent…
In 2017, a group of state agencies and statewide nonprofits formed the Arkansas Farm to School Collaborative (Collaborative). The Collaborative has expanded to include representatives from 12 state agencies and nonprofits. In addition, NFSN recognized the following as farm to school Supporting Partners: Arkansas Department of Agriculture, Arkansas Department of Education – Child Nutrition Unit, Arkansas Department of Human Services, and the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service (UADA).
In 2014, then-Governor Mike Beebe proclaimed October as Arkansas Farm to School Month. Governor Asa Hutchinson continued the practice in 2015 and each year since.