Secondary menu

Community Food Systems

Farm to School Census

The results of the 2015 USDA Farm to School Census are in: farm to school works!

1/4
Grant Program

Every year grants are awarded to help schools connect with local producers and teach children where their food comes from.

2/4
Farm Fresh Produce

Farm to school programs bring fresh products to school cafeterias.

3/4
Hands on Learning

Students learn where their food comes from through farm visits and nutrition education.

4/4
Previous pause Forward
Last Published: 09/19/2016

Welcome!

USDA’s Farm to School Program is housed in the Food and Nutrition Service’s Office of Community Food Systems (OCFS). OCFS helps child nutrition program operators incorporate local foods in the National School Lunch Program and its associated programs, as well as the Summer Food Service Program and Child and Adult Care Food Program. In addition, OCFS staff works with tribal communities to respond to their desire to better incorporate traditional foods into our meal programs. OCFS accomplishes this through grant making, training and technical assistance and research.

The Food and Nutrition Service has seven regional offices around the country; in each is a Farm to School Regional Lead available to provide farm to school related support to state agencies and other entities in their region. A list of regions, along with the names and contact information for regional and national USDA Office of Community Food Systems staff, can be found here.

Learn more about our work: Farm to School at USDA, 2012-2015: Four Years in Review.

To receive information and updates from USDA’s Office of Community Food Systems, please sign up for our E-letter.

Hot Topics

USDA is Now Accepting Applications for FY 2017 Farm to School Grant Funding!

We are excited to announce the release of the FY 2017 Farm to School Grant Program Request for Applications (RFA). Please visit our grant opportunities page to review the RFA for complete application instructions, frequently asked questions (FAQ), and addtional application support materials. Visit the grant program page for an overview of past grantees, program summary reports, and more. 

Key Dates:

  • September, 13 2016: Release the Farm to School Grant Program FY 2017 RFA. Click here for more information
  • September 29, 2016: USDA will host a webinar at 1:00 pm EST to review the RFA. Click here to register
  • December 8, 2016: FY 2017 Farm to School Grant Program applications are due in grants.gov by 11:59 pm EST
  • May 2017: Announce awards

Final Results of the 2015 Farm to School Census are In!

We asked and you answered. The results of the 2015 USDA Farm to School Census have been tallied and we’re happy to report good news: farm to school works!

An investment in the health of America’s students through farm to school programming is also an investment in the health of local economies. In school year 2013-2014, school districts purchased nearly $800 MILLION in local food from farmers, ranchers, fishermen, and food processors and manufacturers. That’s a 105% increase over the $386 million of local food purchased in the 2011-2012 school year when the first Census was conducted. Forty-six percent of school districts report that they will buy even more local foods in future school years.

Through farm to school, healthy habits are taking root all across the country. At the national level, 42 percent of school districts that responded to the Census are operating farm to school programs as of the 2014-2015 school year and another 16 percent have plans to start in the future. Farm to school programs exist in every state in the country in large and small, rural and urban schools alike.

New Resources

Fact Sheet: School Gardens

With more than 7,000 school gardens across the nation, many school districts are using gardens to grow healthy habits in cafeterias, classrooms, and communities. This new fact sheet provides guidance on using school garden produce in the cafeteria, agriculture education, food safety, incorporating gardens into Summer Food Service Programs and early child care settings, staffing, and funding.

Fact Sheet: Integrating Local Foods into Child Nutrition Programs 

The opportunities for serving local foods in child nutrition programs are abundant. Not only can local foods span the plate, operators can serve local foods in all types of programs. From childcare to afterschool settings, through the school-year and during summer months, the steps outlined in this new fact sheet will help program operators find, buy, and incorporate local foods into any child nutrition program.