Farm to School and Childcare
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.
Visit the Iowa Farm-to-School website, managed by IDALS, for more information about the program and Iowa initiatives.
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.
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.
Produce Safety Webinar - Provides information on how to select, receive, store, and prepare fresh produce in the school cafeteria and in the classroom Ideas from two Iowa schools on how they are incorporating fresh produce into their school meals program successfully.
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.
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.
Farm to Child Care
Collaborations between farmers and child care facilities are rapidly developing across the country in order to assist young children with establishing healthy eating habits. Farm to Child Care programs, promote nutrition education for children and families, community involvement, and local food sourcing. Farm to Child Care programs involve a variety of team members, including preschool staff, farmers, families, children, teachers, community members, and food service employees.
Farm to Child Care Resources
Expanding Farm to Child Care Webinar - Presented by Team Nutrition and Iowa State University Extension and includes steps for getting started in farm to child care; using child care gardens for nutrition education and in the meals program; enhancing knowledge and skills for safe procurement of locally grown foods; encouraging children to consume foods that are locally grown; and enhancing skills to communicate these efforts to parents and staff.
Farm to Preschool Network - National webpage that contains resources on how to start a Farm to Preschool program, parent education materials, preschool gardens, seasonal menus and recipes, local food purchasing resources and much more!
It’s Farm Time – Mealtime Memo for Child Care
Its Farm Time - Provides tips, strategies, and resources to starting a Farm to Child Care Program.