The most exciting part of the Farm Fresh Initiative is that it is flexible and can be tailored to fit the needs and resources of any program.
Regardless of size, a successful Farm Fresh Program includes three key elements:
1. Locally grown products served in meals and snacks;
2. Agriculture and nutrition education taught in the classroom as part of existing standards-based curricula;
3. Educational activities for students such as hands-on gardening, cooking demonstrations or on-site visits to local farms.
Simple steps that can be taken by a program of any size!
1. Check out available resources on our Garden Based Learning Page
2. Develop Community Partnerships
Your busy schedule may not allow you to devote all the time necessary to successfully oversee an entire new program. Enlist the help of the community by organizing a committee, task force or work group. Many parents and community members are willing to support efforts to improve child nutrition.
3. Make communication a centerpiece
- Communicate the benefits of locally grown foods to school nutrition staff, teachers, school administrators, students and community members.
- Ask for input from people who might be knowledgeable about local-food initiatives and monitor local media reports for news of organizations that might provide food or assistance.
- Build the Farm Fresh Initiative into the tapestry of your program to ensure long-term sustainably!
4. Start slowly and plan carefully
Begin planning several months before you expect to serve a food item. Check out our Farm Fresh Network to connect directly to a Texas producer. The following "to do" list will help you get started.
- Talk to local producers or your distributor about supplying locally grown products.
- Develop a plan for promoting the local food to your school community.
- Decide how the food item will be served and find good recipes.
- Train staff if the item is new and they are not familiar with handling, preparation and serving techniques.
5. Strengthen children’s connection to where their food comes from
Go beyond simply adding a local food to the lunch menu — engage students with classroom announcements, school newsletters, farm visits and hands-on activities such as gardening and cooking.
Participate in the annual Farm Fresh Challenge and earn statewide recognition for your efforts to strengthen this connection!
6. Ask for advice
There are people across Texas dedicated to connecting young people with fresh, locally grown, healthy foods in school lunchrooms. The Farm Fresh team can help you navigate through the exciting Farm Fresh world!
Email us at FarmFresh@SquareMeals.org (link to FarmFresh@SquareMeals.org email address)
USDA Memos for NSLP
(SP 06-2015) Farm to School and School Garden Expenses memo
How to use funds from the nonprofit school food service account to cover expenditures related to farm to school activities and school gardens.
SP 32-2009 School Garden Frequently Asked Questions memo
How school garden and cafeteria programs can partner to create a campus or district garden program.