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Farm to School connects schools (K-12) and local farms by serving healthy meals in school cafeterias, improving student nutrition, providing food, farm, and nutrition education, and supporting local, family farmers.
Activities can include featuring fresh, local food in school meals, hands-on cooking and taste testing, edible school gardening, field trips to farms, and standards-based experiential learning in the classroom.

One of the first farm to school programs was established by a school nutrition director over twelve years ago—and now there are over 2,000 in the U.S.  School nutrition directors and their cafeteria staff have a huge opportunity to introduce children to fresh, local produce through school meals, but they also face challenges that need to be thoughtfully addressed before launching a farm to school program.

The resources below cover farm to school basics, procurement and geographic preference guidelines, food safety, recipes and ideas for leveraging your community to help.

Getting Started

  • Farm to School 101This brief document provides an overview of what farm to school is, why it’s important, and a few steps to get started.

 

Finding and Procuring Local Food

  • Tips for Working with FarmersThis concise guide is full of helpful information for buying from local farmers. It includes information on what’s in season when in Georgia, how to start and build relationships with farmers, and language to include in a purchasing agreement.
  • Georgia Organics Good Food GuideThe Good Food Guide is a great tool to find small, family farms, farmers markets, and restaurants that serve local food in your county.

 

Using Local Food

  • Guide for Using Local Food in SchoolsThis guide was developed by Vermont FEED, and includes a step-by-step process for starting local purchasing in your school, success stories about farm to cafeteria relationships, and seasonal recipes and menu ideas. While this guide was created for Vermont schools it still has lots of very relevant material.
  • Preparing Local Food in the CafeteriaThis short video documents school nutrition staff from the City Schools of Decatur learning knife skills, creating some simple meals using fresh, local ingredients, and enjoying a delicious meal together.
  • Pecks to PoundsThis great resource from the Maryland Dept. of Agriculture translates common products from farm language to kitchen language. How many peaches are in a bushel? 48 pounds!

Food Safety Tips

As school nutrition directors and staff know, food safety is paramount. Local food can be as safe or safer than food that travels hundreds of miles from farm to plate. Check out these resources to learn about safety requirements, concerns, and questions you should ask local farmers prior to purchase.

  • Handling Fresh Produce at SchoolThis is a great resource for handling fresh produce once it arrives at your school or kitchen. It provides detailed advice on how to receive, wash, store, and prepare fresh produce in schools in accordance with nation-wide safety procedures.