Food Service Professionals

How to join the Farm to School Movement

Food Service Directors have a key role to play in making farm to school happen. Purchasing fresh, locally-grown foods for your school meals can increase participation rates, expand fresh food offerings, excite students, staff & parents about school food and support your local farming economy.

Although the idea of Farm to School programs appeal to many food service directors, the implementation of these programs can be challenging. With tight budgets and strict USDA regulations, producing school meals that keep budgets in the black and that kids will eat everyday can be more than a full time job. However, many food service directors across the country are finding ways to bring local foods into their cafeterias and are reaping tremendous rewards for this effort.

Tips to build a sucessful local food model

  • Start with seasonal items. Such as fruit that requires little to no processing.
  • Highlight one item on your menu. Start small, feature one seasonal item at a time.
  • Leverage off-contract flexibilty. Use this margin to work with local farms.
  • Build relationship with your local farmers. Communicate needs and expectations – and ask farmers for theirs in exchange. Invite farmers to meet students, host a farm visit and/or share information about local farmers with students, parents and staff. Look for other ideas in this Farmer Conversation Guide.
  • Access Farm to School Training Templates  Culinary Skills for Local Foods and Farm to School Readiness Self-Assessment Tool that include customizable PowerPoint, speaker notes, handouts and evaluation form.

Food Service Resources:

USDA Procuring Local Foods Child Nutrition Programs Guide

Farmer Profile Template

Wisconsin Farm to School: Toolkit for School Nutrition Directors

Iowa Farm to School Producer Directory

USDA Best Practices Handling Fresh Produce in Schools

Midwest Seasonal Food Chart

FDA Raw Produce: Selection and Serving it Safely