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Technical Assistance & Guidance

Welcome to the Patrick Leahy Farm to School Program's resources page. Below you will find services and resources to implement, sustain, and maintain your farm to school program.

For fact sheets covering a variety of farm to school topics; please visit the Farm to School Fact Sheet page for more information.

Farm to School Resources are LIVE in the ICN CNSS Resource Hub

The Institution for Child Nutrition's (ICN) Child Nutrition Sharing Site (CNSS) Resource Hub is a one stop shop for all operation-related child nutrition program resources. The resource hub now features a section for farm to school resources.

These free resources from various farm to school stakeholders cover a variety of topics, such as building your farm to school team, promoting your farm to school program, native/traditional food resources, and more.

Has your organization created farm to school resources that might be helpful for other organizations? We invite you to share them via the easy-to-use Farm to School Resources Submission Form. Farm to school stakeholders, including USDA Farm to School grantees, have the ability to upload resources created to the new farm to school hub. To submit a resource, visit the Resource Hub Submission page and complete the form.

Farm to School Resource Index

Find a number of USDA resources indexed below:

Building your Farm to School Team, Establishing Vision/Goals/Action Plans
  • Farm to School Planning Toolkit: The Farm to School Planning Toolkit guides you through questions to consider and helpful resources to reference when starting or growing a farm to school program. It is designed for use by schools, school districts, and community partners. The toolkit is filled with tips and examples, insights from others, and lists of resources for further research. Each school district is unique so browse the topics to find the resources most relevant to you and your implementation team! [Organization/Agency: USDA Food and Nutrition Service]
  • Farm to School Nutrition Programs Planning Guide: Plan your farm to school program using the "Farm to Child Nutrition Programs Planning Guide." The "Farm to Child Nutrition Planning Guide" directs you through questions to consider when starting or growing a farm to school program that supports the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), School Breakfast Program (SBP), Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and Seamless Summer Option (SSO), and Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). This planning guide should be used as a supplemental tool to the USDA Farm to School Program's "Farm to School Planning Toolkit." [Organization/Agency: USDA Food and Nutrition Service]
  • Local Wellness Policy Resources: Each local educational agency (LEA) that participates in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) or other federal child nutrition programs is required by federal law to establish a local school wellness policy for all schools under its jurisdiction. Local wellness policies are an important tool for parents, LEAs and school districts in promoting student wellness, preventing and reducing childhood obesity, and providing assurance that school meal nutrition guidelines meet the minimum federal school meal standards. Wellness policies can also inform farm to school activities. Access resources at USDA Team Nutrition's webpage. [Organization/Agency: USDA Team Nutrition]
Defining and Finding Local Foods, Procurement Guidance and Regulations
  • Land-Grant University Website Directory: Find out who the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) land-grant partners are, and how to reach them with this "Land-Grant University Partner Map." The tool allows you to discover the specific colleges and universities that make up this system and provide links to the institution's sites. These institutions may provide resources for farm to school program support. [Organization/Agency: USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture]
  • Cooperative Extension System: Cooperative Extension agents staff offices in each state and are experts in many agricultural topics, including local food systems. Most counties have an Extension Office and these agents can help you connect with producers in your region. [Organization/Agency: USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture]
  • Local Food Directories - Food Hub Directory: The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) website lists businesses or organizations that actively manage the aggregation, distribution, and marketing of source-identified food products to multiple buyers from multiple producers, primarily local and regional producers, to strengthen the ability of these producers to satisfy local and regional wholesale, retail, and institutional demand. [Organization/Agency: USDA Agricultural Marketing Service]
  • Farm Service Agency (FSA) State Offices: Here you can find information for all USDA's state FSA offices, which hold contact information for local producers and often host outreach meetings for growers. [Organization/Agency: USDA Agricultural Marketing Service]
  • USDA National Farmers Market Directory: A searchable database of all registered farmers' markets in the country. Over 8,000 markets can be found here. [Organization/Agency: USDA Agricultural Marketing Service]
  • Procuring local Foods for Child Nutrition Programs Guide: The Food and Nutrition Service guide showcases the many ways schools can purchase locally in accordance with regulations. The document also provides information on what local means and where to find local foods. [Organization/Agency: USDA Food and Nutrition Service]
Resources for Producers and for Working with Producers
  • Bringing the Farm to School: A Training Program for Agricultural Producers: Bringing the Farm to School is now in phase 4: Local Producer Trainings. Regional workshops have been completed, and now state teams around the U.S. and territories are hosting local producer trainings using the tools, resources, and knowledge from the regional workshops. Please visit the Bringing the Farm to School website to share information about a planned training, request technical assistance, or for any additional questions. Bringing the Farm to School was developed by the USDA in cooperation with the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) and the National Farm to School Network (NFSN). [Organization/Agency: National Farm to School Network]
  • Urban Agriculture Grants and Engagement Opportunities: Urban agriculture generally refers to the cultivation, processing and distribution of agricultural products in urban and suburban settings, including things like vertical production, warehouse farms, community gardens, rooftop farms, hydroponic, aeroponic, and aquaponic facilities, and other innovations. Follow this link to learn more about urban agriculture grants and engagement opportunities. [Organization/Agency: USDA]
  • Beginning Farmer and Rancher Coordinators: New to farming? USDA can help and offers additional assistance to beginning farmers and ranchers. USDA considers anyone who ahs operated a farm or ranch for less than 10 years to be a beginning farmer or rancher. USDA can help you get started or grow your operation through a variety of programs and services, from farm loans to crop insurance, and conservation programs to disaster assistance.[Organization/Agency: USDA]
Menu Planning, Taste Testing, and Promoting Local Foods
  • The Food Buying Guide for Child Nutrition Programs: The Food Buying Guide (FBG) is the essential resource for food yield information for all child nutrition programs (CNP). The FBG assists CNP operators, food manufacturers, and other stakeholders with purchasing the correct amounts of foods for child nutrition meal programs and determining the contribution that each food makes toward meal pattern requirements. [Organization/Agency: USDA Team Nutrition]
School Gardens
  • School Garden Q&As - Memo SP32-2009: This memo clarifies, among other things, that funds from the nonprofit school food service account can be used to purchase seeds and other supplies for starting and maintaining school gardens. [Organization/Agency: USDA Food and Nutrition Service]
  • Farm to School and School Garden Expenses - Memo SP06-2015: This memo further clarifies that funds from the nonprofit school food service account can be used for many school garden and farm to school expenses as long as the activities are supporting the school meal programs. [Organization/Agency: USDA Food and Nutrition Service]
Farm to School Safety Resources
  • Food Safety Resources: The FNS Office of Food Safety develops education, instruction and technical assistance resources for individuals working in federally funded nutrition assistance programs such as the National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, Child and Adult Care Food Program, and Summer Food Service Program. Many of these resources are created in partnership with the Institute of Child Nutrition (ICN). This page contains links to these resources and other food safety resources that may be helpful to school nutrition and childcare employees. [Organization/Agency: USDA and the Institute of Child Nutrition]
  • Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and Good Handling Practices (GHP): Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and Good Handling Practices (GHP) are voluntary audits that verify that fruits and vegetables are produced, packed, handled, and stored to minimize risks of microbial food safety hazards. Learn more about GAP program updates and audit services here.[Organization/Agency: USDA Agricultural Marketing Service]
Farm to School Nutrition Education Curriculum
  • Grow It, Try It, Like It!: Grow It, Try It, Like It! and Vegetables at Family Child Care is designed to help Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) operators provide garden-based nutrition education for children ages 3 through 5 years old in family child care settings. Through the activities in Grow It, Try It, Like It!, children touch, smell, feel, and taste new fruits and vegetables. Children also learn how fruits and vegetables grow. Planting activities help children connect the delicious food choices at the table with farm, orchard, or garden. [Organization/Agency: USDA Team Nutrition]
  • Dig In: Explore a world of possibilities in the garden and on your plate using ten inquiry-based lessons that engage 5th and 6th graders in growing, harvesting, tasting, and learning about fruits and vegetables. [USDA Team Nutrition]
  • The Great Garden Detective Adventure: This eleven-lesson curriculum for 3rd and 4th grades includes bulletin board materials, veggie dice, fruit and vegetable flash cards, and ten issues of Garden Detective News for parents and caregivers. [Organization/Agency: USDA Team Nutrition]
Traditional / Native Food Resources
  • Service of Traditional Foods in Public Facilities - Memo SP42-2015: Section 4033 of the Agricultural Act of 2014 (PL 113-79) directed the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration to allow the donation to, and serving of, traditional food through food service programs at public facilities and nonprofit facilities, including those operated by Indian tribes and facilities operated by tribal organizations, that primarily serve Indians. This FNS memo, published in July 2015, is intended to provide guidance relating to this provision for schools and institutions operating the USDA child nutrition programs. [Organization/Agency: USDA Food and Nutrition Service]
  • Crediting Traditional Indigenous Foods in Child Nutrition Programs (TA 01-2023): An FNS memo published in November 2023 intended to clarify that traditional foods may be served in CNPs and to provide examples of how several traditional foods my contribute towards a reimbursable meal. [USDA Food and Nutrition Service]
  • 2019 Memo - Farm Bill Implementation - Donated Traditional Foods and Civil Liability: An FNS memo published in July 2019 intended to notify child nutrition program operators of the 2018 Farm Bill's expansion of the provision stating that certain groups are not liable in civil cases regarding the donation and service of traditional foods. [Organization/Agency: USDA Food and Nutrition Service]
Farm to School Research and Evaluation
  • Farm to School Census: USDA periodically conducts the Farm to School Census to measure the extent of nationwide farm to school activity. This includes data on the variety of farm to school activities, types of locally sourced products purchased by school food authorities (SFAs), as well as estimates on how much is spent on locally grown products. Use the Farm to School Census to determine which nearby districts are purchasing local foods and what foods they are buying. [Organization/Agency: USDA Food and Nutrition Service]
  • Census of Agriculture: The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) surveys all farmers every five years and produces county profiles that detail agricultural production in every county. Think about using this data to find out what is produced in your area.[Organization/Agency: USDA National Agriculture Statistics Service]
  • National Farm to Institutions Metrics Collaborative: The National Farm to Institution (FTI) Metrics Collaborative is a group of FTI leaders dedicated to developing best practices for measuring the impact of the institutional market across the supply chain. This nation-wide, multi-sector collaborative seeks to develop a common set of food procurement metrics, benchmarks, and best-practices for institutional dining and food service that promote the health and resilience of their community's economic, ecological, and social systems. Resources include FTI metrics, glossary, tracking templates, a reporting calculator and more. [Organization/Agency: National Farm to Institution Metrics Collaborative]
Page updated: November 29, 2023