Farm to School
The Iowa Farm to School Program was created by legislation that passed during the 2007 legislative session that provided funding to link schools and children with local farmers and organizations to offer fresh, locally grown food and nutrition based educational opportunities. The program is being coordinated through Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) and the Iowa Department of Education. Farm-to-School is broadly defined as any program that connects schools and local farms with the objectives of serving healthy meals in school cafeterias, improving student nutrition, providing agriculture, health and nutrition education opportunities, and supporting local and regional farmers.
There are many ways to implement “Farm-to-School” and it does not just mean serving local foods as a part of the meal line. Ideas include:
- Invite a local farmer, chef or have food service staff present an activity or talk to students about a food and how it is grown.
- Plan nutrition education activities, such as Harvest of the Month, featuring a local food product that is in season.
- Collaborate with teachers to plan an outdoor garden plot or container gardening activity.
- Encourage the use of local foods as a healthy school fundraiser or a feature at a special event.
Helping Schools Buy Local
- Iowa Farm to School Brochure - Iowa Department of Education (DE), Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals (DIA), and the Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship (IDALS) came together to help provide clarification and understanding of some issues facing Farm to School.
- Tips for Starting a Farm to School Program
- FAQs on the Farm to School Program
- Sample Standard Operating Procedure on Direct Purchase of Local Foods
- Checklist for Retail Purchasing of Local Produce
- USDA Procuring Local Foods
- Helping Schools Buy Local - Presentation made to NE Iowa Food And Fitness workshop and SNAI Directors workshop.
Farm to School Resources
Go Local & Get Green! - School fundraisers using locally grown and produced Iowa food and products can be a healthier alternative to what your school may currently be offering. Use these fundraisers tips to raise funds and engage the community while supporting local products and the local economy.
Local Food Fundraiser - Summary of a fundraising pilot that took place at MFL MarMac with the Iowa Food Hub that included products from northeast Iowa farms and businesses.
Iowa Planting and Harvest Calendar - Tool for growers that provides guidance on planting and harvest dates, recipes using local foods and useful tips. For printed copies, please contact Tammy Stotts at email@example.com.
Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation - One-stop shop for integrating agriculture and using agriculture to help teach STEM, language arts, social studies, and other concepts. Find lesson plans, grant opportunities, and other resources for teachers and students.
Iowa Kids Love Iowa Foods Poster - Poster developed in partnership with Iowa Department of Education, IDALS, and Iowa commodity groups.
Farm to School Ideas for the Classroom - Midwest Dairy Council
Growing Farm-to-School Workshops
Growing Farm to School in Iowa - Presented by Chef Cyndie Story, PhD, RD, CC that highlighted the ingredients needed to make Farm to School work. Cyndie emphasized the health benefits greatly outweigh food safety risks, and provided guidance for Food Service Directors.
School Garden Resources
The school garden not only shows students where their food comes from, but can provide a “hands on” educational opportunity.
USDA School Garden Fact Sheet - USDA encourages school gardens by providing grant funding, guidance and resources, and support.
Make Food Safety a Priority in Your School Garden: ISU Extension publication that contains sample protocols for schools to use as they design best practices for their school gardens.
School Garden Webinar - Food Corps members shared the who, what, where, and whys of school gardening.
Food Safety for School Gardens Online Training - Food safety with fresh produce has been an increasing concern in recent years. This online training is meant to educate students and their instructors on safe food production handling through the identification of biological, physical, and chemical hazards within the garden.
Garden for Every School Training Videos - Training videos and resources include: Build Your Team, Map Your Community, Engage Volunteers and Funders, Identify Goals, Choose Plants, Design Your Garden, Maintain Your Garden, Manage Your Garden, Engage Teachers and Students, and Celebrate and Revisit Your Plan.
Garden Curriculum - List created by the Northeast Iowa Food and Fitness Initiative.