Building Your Farm to School Team
Farm to School: Assemble a Team
University of Minnesota Extension tips for foodservice directors on building a farm to school team, including a video and many examples.
Vermont Farm to School: A Guide for Farm to School Community Action Planning
Vermont Food Education Every Day (VT FEED) detailed information on forming a farm to school team, facilitating farm to school meetings, and developing a community action plan.
National Farm to School Network list of simple steps and resources for getting a farm to school program started.
Food Hub’s Knowledge Base, “Getting Started”
Ecotrust library of farm to school guidance is updated regularly and includes user ratings.
Farm to School Kentucky Handbook
Kentucky State Agencies guide offers a great example of how one state tailored a basic how-to guide to their state’s needs.
Establishing a Vision and Goals
Farm to School Toolkit
Gretchen Swanson Center for Nutrition resources for starting a farm to school program for school food professionals, producers, and distributors. Don’t miss the Toolkit Resource Guide.
Farm to School Assessment Tool
Minnesota Department of Health checklist for schools to evaluate their current farm to school efforts.
State Farm to School Legislative Survey: 2002-2013
National Farm to School Network state-by-state listing of farm to school-related state laws.
Local Wellness Policy Resources
USDA’s Team Nutrition information to help schools make and maintain a healthy nutrition environment.
Tips for Writing Goals and Objectives
Tulane University tips for how to write broad goals and specific, measurable objectives.
Defining Local and Finding Local Foods
Resources for Determining what Grows Locally
The Farm to School Census
The Census surveyed over 18,000 school districts about their farm to school efforts. Schools can use this data to find out what districts nearby are sourcing locally.
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 connect you with producers in your region.
Food Hubs: Building Stronger Infrastructure for Small and Mid-Size Producers
This page on the AMS website contains a host of great resources about food hubs—businesses or organizations that actively manage the aggregation, distribution, and marketing of source-identified food products primarily from local and regional producers.
Farm Service Agency (FSA) State Offices
This web page offers contact information for all of USDA’s state FSA offices, which hold contact information for local producers and often host outreach meetings for growers.
USDA National Farmers Market Directory
A searchable database of all registered farmers’ markets in the country. Over 8,000 markets are included.
Census of Agriculture
NASS surveys all U.S. 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.
Online Tools for Finding Local Foods
MarketMaker is a national network of states that connect farmers and fishermen with food retailers, grocery stores, processors, caterers, chefs, and consumers. It is an ever-growing partnership of Land Grant Universities, Departments of Agriculture, and food and agricultural organizations investing in a coordinated effort to build a virtual infrastructure that brings healthier, fresher, and more flavorful food to the average consumer.
An online marketplace and directory that makes it easy and efficient for professional food buyers and sellers to research, connect, and do business. Food Hub currently serves growers and buyers in the states of Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Alaska and California.
Many State Departments of Agriculture host searchable databases of farms within the state and the products they produce. For an example, visit the Go Texan website or the California Farmer Marketplace.
Buying Local Foods
Guidance and Regulations
Procuring Local Foods for Child Nutrition Programs Guide
This FNS 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.
Finding, Buying, and Serving Local Foods Webinar Series
This FNS series of twelve archived webinar recordings (each about an hour long) showcases the variety of ways school districts can purchase local foods. Each webinar focuses on a specific topic, and most highlight districts across the country that are buying local foods in accordance with regulations.
Program-specific procurement regulations
FNS links to regulations governing each major Child Nutrition Program from Title 7 of the Code of Federal Regulations.
Final Rule: Geographic Preference Option
The final rule, published in the Federal Register, includes a summary, background, and final regulatory language, by program, for the geographic preference option.
Procurement Geographic Preference Q&As Part I (pdf)
An FNS memo published in February 2011 addressing questions regarding application of the geographic preference option.
Procurement Geographic Preference Q&As Part II (pdf)
An FNS memo published in October 2012 addressing additional questions regarding application of the geographic preference option and other mechanisms for local procurement.
State Agency Guidance on Procurement
Institute of Child Nutrition online procurement training geared towards state agencies that focuses on federal procurement requirements.
Procurement in the 21st Century
Institute of Child Nutrition comprehensive guide presents general concepts about procuring goods, products, and services for school nutrition programs.
Geographic Preference: What it is and how to use it
This FNS fact sheet shows three examples of how a school food authority might incorporate geographic preference into a solicitation.
Geographic Preference Primer
School Food FOCUS summarizes state and federal law and provides guidance on implementing a geographic preference policy.
Decision Tree: How Will You Bring Local Foods into the Cafeteria with Your Next School Food Purchase?
This FNS fact sheet presents several options for including your desire for local foods in the procurement process
Using DoD Fresh to Purchase Local Produce
This FNS fact sheet addresses the advantages, and mechanics, of using USDA Foods entitlement dollars to order local foods through the Department of Defense Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program.
A School's Guide to Purchasing Washington-Grown Food, from the Washington State Department of Agriculture
This straightforward, clearly worded, resource-filled guide provides information on using the geographic preference option to source local foods in Washington State; however, much of the content is broadly applicable.
School Food Learning Lab in Saint Paul, Minnesota: A Case Study of Procurement Change in Action
School Food Focus provides a detailed account of how one Minnesota school district developed and pursued their goals for procurement change, including increasing their local foods purchases.
Frozen Local: Strategies for Freezing Locally Grown Produce for the K-12 Marketplace
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
Presents research and insights on avenues for freezing local foods on a small to medium scale.
Using Food Hubs to Create Sustainable Farm to School Programs
This VT Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets resource offers four case study examples, detailing the role that food hubs can play in the development and maintenance of successful farm to school programs.
For and About Producers
Getting Started – Farmer Self-Assessment
A Michigan State University self-assessment worksheet for farmers to determine their interest in and readiness for selling their products to schools.
Selling to Schools & Institutions
Food Hub’s Knowledge Base Resources for farmers on how to get started selling foods to schools.
How to Start the Conversation: A Food Service Director & Farmer Conversation Guide
California Farm to School Taskforce detailed list of questions for food service staff to ask farmers as they begin the conversation about procuring the farmer’s products.
Toolkit for Institutional Purchasers Sourcing Local Food From Distributors
Farm to Institution New England (FINE)
This guide assists dining services managers in communicating with current or potential distributors about meeting demands for local products and tracking local and sustainable purchases. While geared towards institutions in New England, the toolkit has something for everyone interested in buying local.
Menu Planning Help
The Food Buying Guide for Child Nutrition Programs
FNS guide (updated to reflect the new meal patterns) meant to help SFAs determine how much food to purchase and how to prepare it.
Menu Planning Resources
A compilation of menu planning tools, fact sheets, guides, and more.
Fish to Schools Resource Guide
Sitka Conservation Society
The Sitka Conservation Society developed a “how-to” guide to serving fish in schools. Using Sitka as a case study, it outlines procurement and processing strategies, legalities, tips, and recipes.
Pecks to Pounds
Maryland Department of Agriculture
Translates the typical farm measurements (pecks, bushels, crates, etc.) to pounds. This chart is useful for both farmers and school food service staff to communicate effectively with each other and enables school food service staff to convert farm measurements into serving sizes.
Recommended Kitchen Equipment for From-Scratch Cooking
Wisconsin Farm to School Program
A list of equipment you might need to start incorporating scratch recipes until menus.
Chop! Chop! Culinary Skills for Locally-Grown Produce in School Meals
UW-Madison Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems
These free training videos will help you and your school food service staff use more fresh fruits and vegetables—and whole grains—in your school meal program by introducing new foods, recipes and culinary skills.
Gunnison Watershed School District informational menus prominently feature Harvest of the Month items, highlight dishes that are made from scratch, and highlight which menu items are produced within the state of Colorado.
Sample Cycle Menus
Great Trays™ partnership in Minnesota – Part of the Great Trays™ Toolkit sample cycle menus adhere to the new meal guidelines and show which foods can be procured locally in Minnesota.
Chef Designed School Meals
Idaho State Department of Education
Guidance on creating exceptional cycle menus that adhere to nutrition standards, including sample menus.
What’s Cooking? USDA Mixing Bowl
Wonderful recipes, resources, and fact sheets for household and large-quantity cooking.
Oklahoma Farm to School Program
Full of time and cost efficient, healthful, and local recipes that use Oklahoma-grown produce; recipes are relevant wherever similar foods are grown!
Menus that Move
Ohio Department of Education
Seasonal menus that meet USDA’s new meal requirements.
Food Family Farming Foundation
Recipes, tips, and tools, and tutorials on incorporation healthful foods into school meals.
Great Trays™ Toolkit for School Foodservice
Great Trays™ partnership in Minnesota
A host of menu planning resources including worksheets, sample menus, and recipes.
Fresh from the Farm: The Massachusetts Farm to School Cookbook
Massachusetts Farm to School Project
Countless recipes that use fruits and vegetables that grow locally in New England, complete with nutritional analyses.
New School Cuisine
This cookbook includes more than 75 recipes for school kitchens to prepare healthy, locally-sourced meals for their students.
Taste Testing Resources
A Guide to Taste Testing Local Food in Schools
Vermont Food Education Every Day (VT FEED)
A comprehensive guide to implementing a taste testing program in your school, including a sample timeline, case studies from taste tests in the cafeteria, classroom, and through afterschool programs.
Farm to School Taste Tests in School Cafeterias
Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Coalition
A quick-start taste-testing guide for chefs, parents, and cafeteria and school staff.
Tasting Lesson – Fruits and Vegetables
University of Minnesota Extension Program
A sample lesson to that can be offered along with a taste test.
Free Tasting Lessons
Cooking with Kids, Inc.
Free and fun bilingual produce tasting lessons.
Bright Ideas for Taste Test Success
This fantastic video walks viewers through several tips for making taste tests fun and successful!
General Food Safety
USDA and the Institute of Child Nutrition
Includes videos, fact sheets, presentations, and talking points on produce safety topics for school foodservice professionals ranging from schools gardens, to food preparation and handling, to produce quality.
Produce Safety Resources
Includes videos, fact sheets, presentations, and webinars on produce safety topics for school foodservice professionals ranging from schools gardens, to food preparation and handling, to produce quality.
Food Safety Publications and Resources
Virginia Cooperative Extension
A host of resources covering topics ranging from food storage guidelines to enhancing the safety of locally grown produce during harvest, transport, and at the market.
Farm to School Food Safety Project
Colorado Farm to School
A review of the statutory and regulatory structure of farm to school-related agricultural policies, with a focus on the interconnectedness of federal mandates on state regulatory structures and local county health regulations related to food safety. This guide is specific to Colorado, but much of the information is relevant to farm to school practitioners in other states.
Tips, Tools, and Guidelines for Food Distribution and Food Safety
Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food & Forestry
Provides helpful food safety information on everything from developing a food safety plan, to handling fresh produce, to safely serving produce from the school garden.
Best Practices for Handling Fresh Produce in Schools
USDA and the Institute of Child Nutrition
Recommendations for reducing the risks of food borne illness and minimizing the chances for fruits and vegetables to become contaminated.
On-Farm Food Safety
USDA Good Agricultural Practices Audit Programs
USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service
Information about USDA’s independent voluntary agricultural practice audit program.
The On-Farm Food Safety Project
A host of food safety resources including tools, customizable forms, and templates to help farmers get organized about on-farm food safety. (Some areas of the site require registration to access).
Good Agricultural Practices and Food Safety
Washington Department of Agriculture’s Farm to School Program
A compilation of food safety resources, including a Request for Proposals that incorporates food safety specifications.
A Checklist for Purchasing Local Produce
Iowa State University Extension and the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture
A checklist of questions for school food purchasers to ask local farmers before they buy their products.
Checklist for Producers Selling Produce to Local K-12 Schools
Gretchen Swanson Center for Nutrition
A checklist meant to facilitate communication about farming practices and food safety between farmers and school food service directors.
Verifying On-Farm Food Safety Fact Sheet
USDA and the Institute of Child Nutrition
Provides tips to help the school foodservice professionals plan and conduct farm visits to discuss food safety practices.
Insurance Coverage Options for Fresh Produce Growers
North Carolina State University Cooperative Extension
A summary of the insurance coverage options available for growers of fresh fruits and vegetables.
School Garden Safety
Growing Safer Gardens
North Carolina State University
School garden recommendations based on Good Agricultural Principles.
Food Safety Tips for School Gardens
Institute of Child Nutrition
School gardening tips regarding site selection, materials, and water use; chemical, fertilizer, compost, and manure use; growing and harvesting; and serving school garden produce through school meal programs.
Sources and Impacts of Contaminants in Soil
Cornell Waste Management Institute
Introduces common sources of soil contaminants relevant for school gardens.
Garden to Cafeteria Program Protocol
Denver Public Schools Food and Nutrition Services
An example one district’s protocols for school gardening, many of which address food safety.
Denver School Garden Coalition Operating Manual
Denver School Garden Coalition
An in-depth manual for school gardening in Denver that includes sections addressing food safety.
School Garden Food Safety Training and Documentation Guide
Oregon Department of Education
This comprehensive guide covers a variety of food safety topics, such as starting a garden, harvesting and serving garden produce.
School Garden Safety Checklist
DC Office of the State Superintendent of Education
A short food safety checklist for school gardens.
School Garden and Food Safety Questionnaire
Minneapolis Public Schools
A set of guiding questions that can be used for any sized district or garden.
Garden to Cafeteria: A Step-by-Step Guide
Michigan State University, Center for Regional Food Systems
This guide touches on everything from planning a garden to food safety and sustaining your efforts.
School Garden Food Safety Program
Arizona College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Cooperative Extension
The materials on this site include videos, worksheets, logs, and a comprehensive safety protocol for school gardens. The guidelines developed adapt GAP/GHP methods that larger producer often follow.
Promoting Your Program
National Farm to School Network (NFSN)
Every year, schools across the county celebrate National Farm to School Month in October. The NFSN makes it easy with a host of resources from fun logos to press release templates to daily themes.
Promoting Your Farm to School Items
University of Minnesota Extension Program
A video geared towards food service directors that addresses promoting farm to school menu items. See also their tips for promoting food.
Examples of Great Farm to School Promotional Materials and Websites
Plan & Design Your Garden
Grow to Learn NYC
From selecting a garden site to making a school garden supplies list, this guide will take you through the process of starting a garden.
Getting Started: A Guide for Creating School Gardens as Outdoor Classrooms
Center for Ecoliteracy
A comprehensive, step-by-step guide to starting a school garden, from selecting and preparing a site, to raising funds, to involving a diverse set of stakeholders.
Garden as Classroom Manual
Boulder Valley School District
This guide explores the benefits of gardens, explains how to build a garden team, outlines sustainability best practices and offers a variety of lesson plans.
Webinars, Videos, and Toolkits
Education & Curriculum Integration
Ag in the Classroom Curriculum Matrix
National Organization for Agriculture in the Classroom
An extensive list of agriculture-related lesson plans and other resources organized by grade level.
Resources and Tools Database
Edible Schoolyard Project
Educational resources for the garden classroom, kitchen classroom, academic classroom, and cafeteria, organized by type, grade level, and season!
Farm to School Lesson Plans
Farm to school activities that incorporate both National and North Carolina State curriculum standards.
USDA’s Team Nutrition
Ten inquiry-based lessons that engage 5th and 6th graders in growing, harvesting, tasting, and learning about fruits and vegetables.
The Great Garden Detective Adventure
USDA’s Team Nutrition
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/caregivers.
Farm to School Knowledge Base: For Educators
A list of farm to school educational resources organized by grade level.
Sustainable Agriculture Resources and Programs for K-12 Youth (pdf)
Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education
A guide to sustainable agriculture-oriented educational programs and curricula that includes direct links as well as program contact information.
Making the Farm Connection: A Guide to Field Trips for Farmers (pdf)
Community Alliance with Family Farmers
A guide to planning and conducting farm visits for school groups, for farmers.
Evaluating Your Efforts
National Farm to School Network
Evaluation for Transformation defines the outcomes that farm to school has the potential to achieve and offers common language, guidelines and metrics to understand those outcomes for the first time. The framework is organized around four key sectors: public health, community economic development, education and environmental quality. Beyond the four sectors, the framework is also structured around three levels of action: program, research and policy.
Evaluate Your Work
UW-Madison Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems
The comprehensive Wisconsin Farm to School Toolkits include an evaluation toolkit dedicated to surveys, measurements, tracking local purchasing, student focus groups and more!
Sustaining Your Program
USDA Grants and Loans that Support Farm to School Activities
Organized by applicant type, this chart outlines the numerous USDA funding streams that support community food systems.
Several free, online training courses and tutorials meant to help users enjoy better success in approaching foundations.
Traditional Food Resources
Farm-to-Cafeteria Initiatives: Connections with the Tribal Food Sovereignty Movement
An example of Native American communities implementing the Farm to cafeteria and food sovereignty movements
Indigenous Farm to School Programs: A Guide for Creating a Farm to School Program in an Indigenous Community
A great guide for creating a sustainable Farm to School program within tribal schools
Native Food Systems Resource Center: Farm to School
Great resource for integrating traditional foods into school meal plans
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Traditional Foods Project
Using Traditional Foods and Sustainable Ecological Approaches for Health Promotion and Type 2 Diabetes Prevention in American Indian and Alaska Native communities
Farm to School Research
Harvest for Healthy Kids Pilot Study: Associations Between Exposure to a Farm-to-Preschool Intervention and Willingness to Try and Liking of Target Fruits and Vegetables Among Low-Income Children in Head Start
Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, December 2015
The aim of study was to evaluate the hypothesis that at post-intervention, children exposed to the Harvest for Healthy Kids pilot study will have greater willingness to try and liking of target foods vs children in the comparison group, controlling for baseline differences. Findings suggest a positive association between the intervention and willingness to try and liking for target foods among study participants.
School Gardens Enhance Academic Performance and Dietary Outcomes in Children
Journal of School Health, July 2015
This article focuses on school garden programs and their effects on students' academic and dietary outcomes. Among 12 identified garden studies with dietary measures, all showed increases/improvements in predictors of fruit and vegetable (FV) consumption. Seven of these also included self-reported FV intake with 5 showing an increase and 2 showing no change. Four additional interventions that included a garden component measured academic outcomes; of these, 2 showed improvements in science achievement and 1 measured and showed improvements in math scores.
SC Farm-to-School Programs Encourages Children to Consume Vegetables
Journal of Hunger & Environmental Nutrition, June 2015
The State of South Carolina (SC) piloted a farm to school program with 4 program components including a partnership with local producers, SC-grown foods in the cafeteria, promotion of SC-grown foods, and a school garden. Parents reported that children asked more for fruits and vegetables at home after being exposed to farm-to-school programs.
Farm to Elementary School Programming Increases Access to Fruits and Vegetables and Increases Their Consumption Among Those With Low Intake
Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, November 2014
This study accessed the effectiveness of Wisconsin farm to school programs in increasing students' fruit and vegetable intake. Results show a higher willingness to try fruits and vegetables and knowledge of nutrition/agriculture (n = 888), and lunch fruit and vegetable availability (n = 4,451 trays), both with increasing prior farm to school program exposure and across the year. Farm to school programming improved mediators of fruit and vegetable consumption and decreased the proportion of children with unfavorable fruit and vegetable behaviors at school lunch.
Farm to School, School to Home: An Evaluation of a Farm to School Program at an Urban Core Head Start Preschool Program
Journal of Hunger & Environmental Nutrition, August 2014
The objective of this study was to evaluate the nutrient content of farm to school lunches compared to lunches provided by the Head Start school. Farm to school lunches were significantly lower in percentage calories from fat and refined grain servings. Total fiber, calcium intake, and whole grain servings were greater in farm to school lunches. Overall, the farm to school program can influence the eating behavior of preschoolers during a critical time when dietary preferences are formed.
Farm to School and Nutrition Education: Positively Affecting Elementary School-Aged Children's Nutrition Knowledge and Consumption Behavior
Childhood Obesity, February 2013
This study examined the effects of the Coordinated Approach to Child Health (CATCH) nutrition curriculum with a farm to school program to assess nutrition knowledge of 3rd grade students, and to increase fruit and vegetable consumption behavior. Findings suggest that CATCH nutrition education and farm tours can positively affect school-aged children's nutrition knowledge and fruit and vegetable consumption behavior.
Farm to Family: Increasing Access to Affordable Fruits and Vegetables Among Urban Head Start Families
Journal of Hunger & Environmental Nutrition, September 2012
This study describes Farm to Family, a program that facilitates access to affordable produce among low-income families with preschool children. Farm to Family was pilot tested in urban Head Start programs that served as the conduit for weekly produce deliveries from a local farm to families in the form of subsidized farm shares.
Gardening Increases Vegetable Consumption in School-aged Children: A Meta-analytical Synthesis
HortTechnology, August 2012
In this study, the authors used meta-analytical techniques to examine the efficacy of garden-based nutrition education programs for increasing children’s nutrition knowledge, preference for fruit and vegetables, and/or consumption of fruit and vegetables. Findings show that gardening increased vegetable consumption in children.
Overcoming Barriers to Vegetable Consumption by Preschool Children: A Child Care Center Buying Club
Journal of Hunger & Environmental Nutrition, May 2011
This pilot study represents a unique food-based obesity prevention program that targeted parents of preschool children. This program attempted to address two barriers to vegetable consumption, time constraints and cost, by offering local produce in a child care center and providing coupon incentives. Over half of the 29 participants were low-income, and 33% of parent-participants reported that the intervention increased vegetable consumption in their children.
The Effects of School Garden Experiences on Middle School–Aged Students’ Knowledge, Attitudes, and Behaviors Associated With Vegetable Consumption
Health Promotion Practice, January 2011
This study describes the effects of garden-based education on children’s vegetable consumption. Results indicate that school gardening may affect children’s vegetable consumption, including improved recognition of, attitudes toward, preferences for, and willingness to taste vegetables. Gardening also increases the variety of vegetables eaten.