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.
Engaging Your Entire School in the Garden - The school garden not only shows students where their food comes from, but can provide a “hands on” fun way for teachers to integrate the Iowa Core Standards. ISU Extension and Outreach, FoodCorps, and the Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation provided an overview of resources and tools during a webinar.
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.
Iowa Planting and Harvest Calendar - A 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 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.
Iowa Kids Love Iowa Foods Poster - Poster developed in partnership with Iowa Department of Education, IDALS, and Iowa commodity groups.
School Garden Webinar - Iowa Department of Education’s Team Nutrition Program partnered with Food Corps to hold a webinar about the who, what, where, and whys of school gardening. Food Corps service members shared their insights about planning a successful school garden and tips to make a school garden kid-friendly and an educational experience.
USDA School Garden Fact Sheet - USDA encourages school gardens by providing grant funding, guidance and resources, and support.
Helping Schools Buy Local
- 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
Farm to School Classroom Resources
Midwest Dairy Council: Farm to School Ideas for the Classroom
Team Nutrition: The Great Garden Detective Adventure: A Gardening Nutrition Curriculum for Grades 3 and 4
Team Nutrition: Dig In! Standards-Based Nutrition Education Curriculum for Grades 5 and 6
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.
Helping Schools Buy Local - Presentation made to NE Iowa Food And Fitness workshop and SNAI Directors workshop.
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.