Farm to School — Tools for Schools

Getting Started

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 (link to 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.

Assistance available in English and Spanish. Please call 877-TEX-MEAL (877-839-6325) for help.

In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA.

Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g. Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.), should contact the Agency (State or local) where they applied for benefits. Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339. Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English.

To file a program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, (AD-3027) found online at:, and at any USDA office, or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by:

U.S. Department of Agriculture
Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20250-9410

This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

Texas Department of Agriculture
Commissioner Sid Miller