USDA's nutrition education initiative to promote healthy food choices and physical activity for school age children. Team Nutrition schools make a commitment to offer healthy school meals, encourage student to be more physically active, and build community support for a healthy school environment. Team Nutrition provides education materials for teachers and students, and technical assistance manuals for food service staff that can help with incorporating Farm to School activities. The following are several of the materials available online:
- Changing the Scene: Improving the School Nutrition Environment
This tool kit addresses the entire school nutrition environment from a commitment to nutrition and physical activity, pleasant eating experiences, quality school meals, other healthy food options, nutrition education and marketing the issue to the public.
- Food Buying Guide for Child Nutrition Programs
The Food Buying Guide for Child Nutrition Programs is designed to help you in two important ways: (1) It will help you or your purchasing agent buy the right amount of food and buy it most economically whether you use one of the food-based or the nutrient standard menu planning approaches; (2) For the food-based menu planning options, it will help you determine the specific contribution each food makes toward the meal pattern requirements. This is necessary to ensure that meals provide needed nourishment and meet program requirements for reimbursement. In addition, with yield data for more than 1,200 food items, this guide can provide ideas for adding new foods or new forms of familiar foods to your menus.
- Fruits & Vegetables Galore
Fruits & Vegetables Galore is a tool for school foodservice professionals packed with tips on planning, purchasing, protecting, preparing, presenting and promoting fruits and vegetables. Use Fruits & Vegetables Galore to help rejuvenate your cafeteria with colorful fruits and vegetables.
- A Menu Planner for Healthy School Meals
The Menu Planner for Healthy School Meals provides recommendations from the 2005 Dietary Guidelines that can be implemented in menu planning: serving more whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, and lower amounts of sugar, saturated and trans fats, and sodium in school menus.
- The Road to SMI Success—A Guide for School Foodservice Directors
The Road to SMI Success - A Guide for School Foodservice Directors provides guidance to school foodservice directors, supervisors and managers on successfully implementing USDA's School Meals Initiative for Healthy Children (SMI) within the scope of daily practices. It includes information on menu planning options, daily foodservice practices and tips to meet nutritional requirements for school meals, Team Nutrition, and preparing for an SMI review.
- Chefs Move to School
The “Chefs Move to Schools” program, run through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, will pair chefs with interested schools in their communities so together they can create healthy meals that meet the schools’ dietary guidelines and budgets, while teaching young people about nutrition and making balanced and healthy choices.
- Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Program (FFVP)
The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program is a federally assisted program providing free fresh fruits and vegetables to students in participating elementary schools during the school day. The goal of the FFVP is to improve children's overall diet and create healthier eating habits to impact their present and future health. The FFVP will help schools create healthier school environments by providing healthier food choices; expanding the variety of fruits and vegetables children experience; and increasing children's fruit and vegetable consumption.
- Food Safety
Food safety and security is an important aspect of the USDA nutrition assistance programs. The Food Safety Unit coordinates food safety and security efforts within all these programs, and provides information on food safety and security related to the assistance programs administered by FNS as well as links to FNS’ food safety partners.
- Best Practices: Handling Fresh Produce in Schools
This fact sheet describes best practices for handling all types of produce with practices specific to leafy greens, tomatoes, melons, and sprouts, as well as a number of steps that foodservice employees can take to minimize the chances for fruits and vegetables they handle to become contaminated.
- Department of Defense Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Program (DoD Fresh)
As part of the initiative by USDA to offer schools a wider variety of fresh produce than would be available through normal USDA purchases, the DoD Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program was created. Through the DoD Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, USDA has been able to offer schools a wider variety of fresh produce than would normally be available through USDA purchases.
- Marketing Services Division
The mission of the Marketing Services Division (MSD) is to improve the efficiency of food and agricultural product distribution and thereby enhance the ability of producers to retain a greater share of the consumer food dollar. To facilitate more direct distribution of U.S. agricultural products, MSD administers two competitive grant programs that support agricultural marketing activities: the Farmers Market Promotion Program and the Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program. The Division also contains a research and technical assistance branch that supports small and medium-sized farm operators, food processors and food handlers by:
- Developing market intelligence and information to help agricultural producers, processors, and manufacturers to better meet the needs of household and commercial buyers;
- Identifying emerging marketing opportunities;
- Providing advice on how to create and improve the operation of farmers markets and other direct marketing facilities; and
- Providing design and planning assistance to market planners and operators.
MSD maintains a website devoted to marketing channel research and development, which features several publications that examine the growing importance of schools as a market outlet for local agricultural products, and offer tips and strategies to producers and school foodservice personnel alike to enhance the success of Farm to School marketing and procurement.
On May 1, 2000, more than 180 individuals—school food service directors, State and Federal commodity procurement officials, Extension agents, members of farm cooperatives, and agricultural marketing specialists—gathered at the Georgetown College Training and Conference Center in Georgetown, KY, to share information and strategies aimed at boosting the use of locally produced fresh food in school feeding programs. This report summarizes the educational highlights of the workshop 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.
Small farmers in the United States are declining in number and experiencing economic difficulty. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service, the West Florida Resource Conservation and Development Council, and the Small Farmer Outreach Training and Technical Assistance Project, Florida A&M University have worked together on this pilot project to create marketing opportunities for limited-resource growers.
- Farm to School: A Selected and Annotated Bibliography
The Farm to School Bibliography provides a collection of available resources including books, scientific peer-reviewed journal articles, and Grey literature/pamphlets related to farm to school for schools and other institutions.
- Farm to School and School Gardens
Children learn a great deal from growing their own fruits and vegetables. Find out how to start a school garden of your own. This section also includes many general Farm to School resources.
- Farm to School and School Gardens (pdf)
This publication is a collection of resources on the topic of Farm to School and School Gardening for educators. It is comprised of information available on the World Wide Web, educational materials and contact information of related organizations.
- Farm to School Bulletin Board Resources
When children understand where their food comes from, such as from a local farm or a school garden, they are more interested in trying new fruits and vegetables! Use these resources to create a colorful, motivating display.
- Chef Resources
This section is a collection of resources on the topics of school nutrition, cooking with kids, nutrition education, and more.
- Youth Resources
Rural Development’s Youth Resources page provides students, parents, and teachers with youth-geared information and resources related to agriculture.
- Agriculture in the Classroom
Kids and teens can find information about animals, foods, ag questions, Science Fair projects, Ag Fun and virtual field trips in the Agriculture in the Classroom Kid's Zone.
- Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS)
- Food Safety Education Materials
FSIS provides numerous food safety education materials for students, including comic books, fact sheets, word finds, and other materials.
- FSA Grants
Visit the FSA page for information about cold storage facilities now eligible for the USDA Facility Loan Program.
- FSA Kids
FSA Kids provides fun farm facts, stories about youth farmers, word searches and mazes, and more.
- Food Environment Atlas Tool
As part of a larger project titled, “The Economics of Local Foods,” ERS has developed a map of Farm to School programs, using a registry from the National Farm to School Network, as part of a Food Environment Atlas web tool. The purpose of this tool is to assemble statistics on food environment indicators to stimulate research on the determinants of food choices and diet quality, and to provide a spatial overview of a community’s ability to access healthy food and its success in doing so.
The MyPyramid food guidance system provides many options to help Americans make healthy food choices and to be active every day. Resources are available for preschoolers, children, teenagers, and adults, including handouts and interactive tools.