Graduation Date

Fall 2017

Document Type



Master of Arts degree with a major in Social Science, Environment and Community

Committee Chair Name

Noah Zerbe

Committee Chair Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Second Committee Member Name

Yvonne Everett

Second Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Third Committee Member Name

Jayne McGuire

Third Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Subject Categories

Environment and Community


In the past twenty to thirty years, critics-both public and private-have scrutinized the national network of public school nutrition programs and the food they serve in cafeterias. Negative claims particularly voice concerns about the quality of foods available to students. School food items have been characterized as highly processed, lacking in nutritional value, and unappetizing in taste and appearance. Furthermore, industrialized, non-locally sourced public school food has been blamed for contributing to high rates of childhood obesity and associated health risks. In response to these claims, federal, state and local governments have pushed for changes in public school nutrition programs. A growing number of nutrition programs in California have steered an alternative course by implementing programs designed to improve the nutritional value, education, and sensual perceptions of foods by sourcing foods from local or regional farms/distributors. One of these programs is Farm to School. This research seeks to understand the practices and perceptions of Farm to School stakeholders in the agriculturally rich Southern San Joaquin Valley. This research examines programs in Tulare, Kern and Fresno Counties as case studies. Qualitative data was collected primarily through semi-structured interviews with various stakeholders such as nutrition service directors and staff, and program support staff from public health agencies. The results of this research begin with an overview of stakeholder motivations for Farm to School programming and continues with an analysis of the procurement models and the infrastructure capacity of the region. Particular attention is given to the degree to which traditional and alternative procurement networks and infrastructure capacity facilitate Farm to School efforts. The research will inform regional public nutrition personnel and offer models to follow in order to revamp their existing programs. Likewise, the research will contribute to the nation-wide Farm to School movement that seeks to connect primary and secondary public school children to local agricultural producers.

Keywords: public school nutrition, non-conventional nutrition programs, Farm to School, case studies, procurement, infrastructure, capacity, nutrition, student health, childhood obesity, local/regional foods.

Citation Style


Included in

Food Studies Commons