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Farm to Summer

Resource type
Technical Assistance & Guidance
Local Foods in the Summer Food Service Program

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 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. Households 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: How Regional Offices and State Agencies Support Farm to Summer Webinar - Increasingly, summer meal households are embracing the Farm to Summer movement by serving fresh, local foods and offering engaging activities, and regional and state-level staff play a unique role in supporting these efforts. This webinar provides an overview of farm to summer activities, resources, and a snapshot of how regional offices and state agencies have encouraged households to adopt farm to summer principles. From MAP addendums to partner meetings, discover how your regional and state colleagues support “bringing the farm” to summer meal programs.
  • Farm to Summer Fact Sheet - 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 (SP07 SFSP07-2016) - 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 Nov. 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.
  • USDA Farm to School Census - Locate schools that include local foods in their SFSP.
  • 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 households 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, households, 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 - A Portland, OR organization has published a helpful guide on maintaining school gardens during the summer months.
  • FRAC Report - "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.
Page updated: September 12, 2023