25: Role of Food in Education – Anupama Joshi (National Farm to School Network)

Dear Santa: I would like turnips for Christmas.” Signed, one inspired first grader.
You probably think I’m pulling your leg right now. Perhaps you’re curious who would even be bold enough to even think the word Christmas this early in the year.
Let’s back up for a second. Hang with me and I promise we’ll dive into more details about that unusual first grader request.
So many students around the United States only have the option for stale, gray and overall lack luster prepackaged school lunches. If that’s one of your main reliable sources of food, to say you’re short on healthy nutrients is an understatement.
Anupama Joshi, founder of National Farm to School Network, is spicing up school lunches across the US with organic, healthy and farm fresh produce.
Let’s say lunches after Farm to School gets involved are anything but bland.
Now if you hang out with elementary school students very often, you know randomly plopping turnips, spinach or kale on their plate will result in a colorful trash bin at the end of lunch. That’s why they work with farmers and educators to get students excited about these new foods.
That’s how you get a first grader to ask for turnips for Christmas. Teaser, this same first grader asked for a garden for their birthday.
If that doesn’t pull at your heartstrings, I don’t know what will.
From getting schools on board to working with farmers to source food to educating students, this is a whole new way of approaching food at a local and educational level. And hats off to them for all the clever and engaging ways they are working with students to teach about food, such as mobile gardens, taste tests, green houses and growing fish.
Yes, I said growing! Join us on Friday as we talk to a biology teacher whose entire curriculum revolves around aquaponics.
That doesn’t even include the speed dating they are doing with farms and schools.
Bottom line, Farm to School Network is planning healthy seeds in the minds of students around the United States. Listen in to hear more about that inspired first grader and the efforts that Farm to School Network are championing.



  • The sum of all of us is greater than any one of us.

Memorable Moment

  • Talking about milking cows! Yes, it was a goal of mine to do for a long. Excited to talk to someone else about the experience.
  • Hearing the inspiring stories of the direct impact their taste tests did in small communities.
  • Listening to how students didn’t know where milk or ice cream came from, and then how teachers were able to

Recommended Reading

  • Messiah Life

How to Make a Positive Impact

  • Connect with the school in your community. Connect with the farmers in your community. Understand where the food you are eating is coming from.

Episodes Mentioned

Connect with Farm to School Network