Farm to School — Tools for Schools

Handling and Storage

Proper handling and storage of fresh produce are key to maintaining safety and maximizing shelf life. These resources outline best practices and tricks of the trade for handling and storing fresh items once they have arrived to the school’s nutrition program facility.

Culinary Skills for Locally-Grown Produce in School Meals
“Chop, chop!” Hear that sound? It’s the sound of School Child Nutrition Directors who have a new way to help students eat more locally grown vegetables and grains.  This six-part series of free videos will help you and your school food service staff use more locally-grown fruits and vegetables and whole grains in your school meal program by introducing new foods, recipes and culinary skills. These videos focus on root vegetables, dark leafy greens, brassicas, tomatoes and peppers, winter squash and whole wheat flour and grains. Each training covers culinary preparation techniques such as hand chopping, pureeing and freezing and offers ideas for incorporating local produce into school salad bars and menus. In addition, the videos feature discussions with farmers and their school partners  on the farm and in the school kitchen. Watch the Chop! Chop! videos and learn more here. 

Produce Safety University Resources
A series of resources, developed by USDA and the Institute of Child Nutrition (ICN), describing best practices for receiving, storing, handling and purchasing fresh and fresh-cut produce. Materials include videos, fact sheets, PowerPoint presentations and a mock recall of fresh produce activity.

Handling Fresh Produce in Schools
This guide, developed by the Institute of Child Nutrition (ICN) in conjunction with USDA, provides an overview of recommendations for handling fresh produce items. It includes tips to use when handling, preparing, serving and storing fresh produce. There are also specific recommendations for handling melons, tomatoes, leafy greens and sprouts.  

Storing Fresh Produce Chart
This easy to read chart, developed by the Institute of Child Nutrition (ICN) in conjunction with USDA, identifies common ethylene producing and ethylene sensitive produce items. It also outlines where to store each type of fresh produce to maximize shelf life. 

Ideal Storage Temperature for Fresh Produce

This one-page reference, found in USDA’s Fruits & Vegetables Galore: Quality Foods for Quality Meals guide outlines the ideal storage temperatures for fresh produce. 

Handling Fresh Produce in Classrooms
Introducing new food items in the classroom is an exciting educational opportunity, but it raises safety concerns. This handy guide, developed by the Institute of Child Nutrition (ICN) in conjunction with USDA, outlines the importance of food safety practices when handling fresh produce in the classroom.

Additional resources can be found on USDA’s Farm to School Web pages.

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

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U.S. Department of Agriculture
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Texas Department of Agriculture
Commissioner Sid Miller