USDA’s Farm to School Program is celebrating a new home! As of October 1, 2015, we are housed in the Food and Nutrition Service’s new Office of Community Food Systems (OCFS). The establishment of this new office allows us to extend our current focus on local foods beyond the National School Lunch Program and its associated programs to include both the Summer Food Service Program and Child and Adult Care Food Program. In addition, OCFS staff will work closely with tribal communities to respond to their desire to better incorporate traditional foods into our meal programs.
FY 2013-2015 Summary of Grant Awards
This report, which provides an in-depth look at our first three years of grant-making, summarizes findings from an analysis of select data from projects funded during fiscal years (FY) 2013 -2015. It combines both quantitative data about planned activities derived from coding used during the proposal review process and qualitative stories about completed activities primarily from grantee progress reports.
The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act tasked USDA with supporting farm to school efforts through grants, training, technical assistance, and research. To date, the USDA Farm to School Grant Program has funded 221 farm to school projects, totaling $15.1 million. We’re pleased to support these programs, and feel confident the grantees whom we fund are establishing models that can be emulated and built upon by districts nationwide.
Procuring Local Foods for Child Nutrition Programs
Our revised local procurement guide is now available and can help you decide how to buy local for your program.
The guide covers procurement basics, defining local, where to find local products, and the variety of ways schools can purchase locally in accordance with regulations. This revision incorporates information about micro-purchases, buying local foods for child care and summer meal programs and more real-world examples. Check out the updated guide for sample solicitation language, detailed geographic preference examples and helpful resources.
Traditional Foods in Child Nutrition Programs
American Indian communities have a rich history of eating native, local foods and a strong interest in serving these traditional foods through federal Child Nutrition Programs (CNPs). In a new memo, Child Nutrition Programs and Traditional Foods, USDA reinforces that many traditional foods can contribute towards reimbursable meals in CNPs. While USDA’s Food Buying Guide is an important tool for school food authorities, it doesn’t contain an exhaustive list of traditional foods; the new memo is an important supplement to help assist tribal communities.
We’re Here to Help!
The USDA Office of Community Food Systems is operated by the Department’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), which has seven regional offices around the country; in each is a Farm to School Regional Lead who is 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 Commuity Food Systems staff, can be found here.
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