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Community Food Systems

Farm to Summer

Last Published: 05/12/2016

Local Foods in the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP)

Summer is a fantastic time of year to add variety to keep meals tasting great. In many regions across the United States, USDA’s Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) aligns well with the peak growing season, allowing schools and nonprofit organizations to serve products in their freshest state. There are numerous benefits to “bringing the farm” to summer feeding sites. Sponsors can increase participation by improving the quality of meals and keeping kids engaged through hands-on activities. Schools can develop continuous, year-round farm to school programming, and test out cooking techniques and recipes using local foods. Regional producers benefit from a reliable outlet for their products during the summer months. And kids and teens get fresh, healthy meals and participate in activities at meals sites, staying nourished and engaged while school is out.

FNS Resources

  • Farm to Summer Fact Sheet (pdf) - Use this fact sheet for summer meal program tips on incorporating local foods and agriculture-based activities.
  • Local Foods and Related Activities in Summer Meal Programs SP-07-2016, SFSP-07-2016 - This policy memo provides guidance on the incorporation of local foods and nutrition and agriculture-based activities into Summer Meal Programs. A growing body of research demonstrates several positive impacts of serving local foods and providing food education through Child Nutrition Programs, including increased participation and engagement in meal programs, consumption of healthier options, and support of local economies. Published November 12, 2015.
  • Procuring Local Foods for Child Nutrition Programs - This resource covers procurement basics, defining local, where to find local products, and the variety of ways child nutrition program operators can purchase locally in accordance with regulations.
  • USDA Farm to School Grant Program - Planning, Implementation, and Support Service grants can support the integration of local foods and complementary activities into school-based SFSP programs. 
  • USDA Farm to School Census - Locate schools that include local foods in their SFSP program.
  • SFSP Toolkit - Find local foods guidance for state agencies, sponsors, and partner organizations, along with tips for starting a summer meals site at farmers markets.
  • SFSP Handbook (pdf) - Sponsors can find guidance on procurement and tips on targeting local foods.
  • SFSP Webinar Series - Listen to presenters discuss incorporating local foods in summer meals, building awareness about summer programs, engaging in partnerships that help boost participation and increase access, and more.

Videos and Webinars

Summer Meals Shorts
Summer is the perfect time to tap into the local harvest! Find out how Green Mountain Farm-to-School’s The Lunchbox is connecting with local farmers to serve summer meals that are brimming with fresh, seasonal foods.

Farm to Summer Webcast: Local Foods and Educational Activities in Summer Meal Programs
This webinar features two partnering organizations that have had success in farm to summer, and provides an overview of how to engage local producers and incorporate local food alongside fun activities into your summer meal program.

Local Foods and Enriching Activities in Summer Meal Programs
State agencies can use farm to summer principles to help sponsors increase the quality and appeal of meals, and encourage programming that helps children and teens stay nourished, active, and engaged while school is out. This webinar provides an overview of farm to summer activities, resources, and a snapshot of how two state agencies have had success in “bringing the farm” to summer meal programs in their states.

Bringing Summer Meals to Farmers Markets
Summer meal sites at farmers markets can help increase foot traffic to the market and offer farmers another way to see or donate their products. This webinar will inform farmers market managers, sponsors, and the public about how to start and maintain Summer meal sites at Farmers Markets. A recording will be available shortly.
 

Partner Resources

  • Growing Gardens (pdf) - A Portland, OR organization has published a helpful guide on maintaining school gardens during the summer months.
  • FRAC Report (pdf) - Fresh from the Farm: Using Local Foods in the Afterschool and Summer Nutrition Programs, a report on extending farm to school in other child nutrition programs.
  • CA Summer Meal Coalition - Farm to Summer website, including a webinar on how to continue local sourcing when school is out.
  • TX Department of Agriculture - Farm to Summer Site, a comprehensive state-level guide to incorporating local foods and farm-based activities in SFSP.