- Is there one "go-to" guide for farm to school already developed for school food service staff?
- In order to participate in farm to school efforts, does my school district have to serve locally grown foods every day?
- Has a Farm to School self-assessment been developed for schools?
- Is there anyone on the USDA Farm to School Team or in the National Farm to School Network who works specifically with Indian tribes?
- Many child care centers can benefit from farm to school efforts. Are there resources available on farm to child care activities? Are there any states implementing farm to child care?
- As a community partner, how can I best advocate with local school districts to jump on board with farm to school efforts?
- Where is the best place to start with policy change for purchasing local food products?
- Does USDA have curriculum available for nutrition education and/or agriculture practices?
- Does USDA have a resource that addresses transportation of fresh fruits and vegetables from the farm?
1. Is there one "go-to" guide for farm to school already developed for school food service staff?
Over the years, USDA has issued several publications to help connect local farms to the school meal programs. While USDA does not have “one” document related to farm to school; however, there are several publications listed below that address various areas related to farm to school. Schools and farmers are also encouraged to contact their State Departments of Agriculture and Education, as well as their local extension office, to inquire about available local and regional resources. Many non-profit organizations, such as the National Farm to School Network and School Nutrition Association, also offer resources pertaining to the implementation of farm to school activities, including resources for linking schools with farmers in your area. USDA’s earlier efforts to provide resources on farm to school included the development of the following publications: (Please note that within these publications, procurement policies related to geographic preference are out of date). For current information on geographic preference, reference the Farm to School website’s policy section.
Small Farms/School Meals Initiative: a Step-by-Step Guide on How to Bring Small Farms and Local Schools Together This guide, published in 2000, details how to connect small farms and local schools to initiate Farm to School projects
How Local Farmers and School Food Service Buyers are Building Alliances This report, published in 2000, summarizes the educational highlights of a workshop held in May of 2000 in an effort to help small farmers and school food service buyers throughout the country explore how they might be able to establish similar business relationships in their own communities
Eat Smart—Farm Fresh! A Guide to Buying and Serving Locally-Grown Produce in School Meals Published in 2005, this is a handbook that offers information on procurement, types and examples of Farm to School distribution models, how to find locally grown food and farmers, menu planning considerations, and strategies for success
Innovative Marketing Opportunities for Small Farmers: Local Schools as CustomersThis 2000 publication, details the events of a 1997 farm to school pilot project in northern Florida.
In addition, the Farm to School website serves as an online toolkit for schools and farmers interested in beginning and/or expanding farm to school efforts in their community. Please check the Farm to School website often, as information will continually be added.
2.In order to participate in farm to school efforts, does my school district have to serve locally grown foods every day?
Each school district’s farm to school efforts are different. It is up to the individuals involved in the district to determine how much and how often they want to include locally grown foods into their school meal programs. Besides offering locally grown/raised food products in your school meal programs, there are other supporting activities that help enhance the farm to school experience for the students, such as nutrition and/or agriculture related curriculum; school gardens; farm tours; and education sessions for parents and the community.
3.Has a Farm to School self-assessment been developed for schools?
Many of the resources we mentioned in the “How to Get Started” section of the October 7, 2010, webinar titled, Digging through the Farm to School Resources, include self-assessment tools for farm to school, as well as contact information on how to obtain those resources.
4.Is there anyone on the USDA Farm to School Team or in the National Farm to School Network who works specifically with Indian tribes?
Yes. The USDA Farm to School Team has been working with the US Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development agency and the US Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Education to find ways in which traditional food items may be incorporated into the school meal programs.In addition, the National Farm to School Network and the Urban and Environmental Policy Institute at Occidental College published Farm to Cafeteria Initiatives: Connections with the Tribal Food Sovereignty Movement, which profiles work being done in Native American communities to restore traditional food systems for children in tribal schools.
5.Many child care centers can benefit from farm to school efforts. Are there resources available on farm to child care activities?
Are there any states implementing farm to child care? Children of all ages may benefit from farm to school related activities. Many of USDA’s Team Nutrition resources are geared toward pre-school and child care facilities and could be used to help foster nutrition education with these age groups. See available resources on the following Team Nutrition’s Child Care Providers webpages: Child Care Provides Spotlight and Child Care Provides Resources. Furthermore, several States have begun farm to preschool efforts. Please check with the State Department that administers the Child and Adult Care Food Program to learn what your State is doing.
6.As a community partner, how can I best advocate with local school districts to jump on board with farm to school efforts?
The “How to Get Started” section of the October 7, 2010, webinar titled Digging through the Farm to School Resources, highlights many different paths for beginning dialog with various stakeholders to implement farm to school activities.
7.Where is the best place to start with policy change for purchasing local food products?
There are many avenues you could take toward making policy changes. Policy changes could occur at the school, district, county, state and national levels. The best place to start is becoming familiar with what policies are currently in place that support or deter local food purchases. From there you can determine what steps are needed to reach your goal. In general, you may consider talking to the school food service director, school board members, as well as county and State legislative representatives. You may also consider contacting non-profit organizations, many of which were highlighted in our October 7, 2010 webinar titled Digging Through the Farm to School Resources, who may track legislative activities in your State. Finally, USDA’s Team Nutrition provides resources on building community support for a healthy school environment. These resources may be accessed through the resource section of the USDA’s Farm to School website.
8.Does USDA have curriculum available for nutrition education and/or agriculture practices?
Yes. The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) makes a variety of nutrition education lessons and curricula available through its Team Nutrition website.USDA’s efforts to provide resources on nutrition and agriculture education include the development of the following publications:
Grow It, Try It, Like It! Preschool Fun with Fruits and Vegetables. In May 2010, FNS released a new garden-based nutrition education kit targeted to 3-5 year olds to childcare providers participating in the Child Nutrition Programs. The kit includes seven booklets featuring three fruits—peaches, strawberries, and cantaloupe and three vegetables—spinach, sweet potatoes, and crookneck squash. Each booklet includes hands-on activities, planting activities, stories, songs, MyPyramid for Preschoolers nutrition education activities, home activities with parent/child activity sheets, family-sized recipes, and tips for cooking with children. Other tools include a Teaching Guide, Art and Crafts, a MyPyramid for Preschoolers Poster, the Cool Puppy Pup video series, and other resources.
Nutrition Through the Seasons. This resource is from USDA’s SNA-Ed Connection and it identifies which foods are most naturally available during different times of the year. Additional resources can be found on SNAP-Ed Connection.
Farm Service Agency Kid’s Site.At USDA’s Farm Services Agency (FSA) kids can find fun farm facts, stories about youth farmers, word searches and mazes, and more through the FSA Kids website.
USDA Rural Development’s Agriculture in the Classroom Kid's Zone Here kids and teens can find information about animals, foods, ag questions, Science Fair projects, Ag Fun and virtual field trips.
In addition, schools are encouraged to contact their Departments of Agriculture and Education, and their local extension office to learn about local and regional resources. For example, farmers and educators in Santa Fe, New Mexico published “Building a Community Garden/Construcción de un Jardín de la Comunidad” a culturally appropriate guide for building community gardens in tribal communities.
9.Does USDA have a resource that addresses transportation of fresh fruits and vegetables from the farm?
The USDA publication titled Protecting Perishable Foods During Transport by Truck is a comprehensive guide to food transportation and includes vegetable specific temperature guidelines, sanitation recommendations, and more.