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 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 doesn’t 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 for more information about the program and links to similar initiatives in other parts of the country.
Q and A’s for School Food Authorities
The success of any Farm to School program is based on people getting involved. In an effort to support each of you, the agencies of the Iowa Department of Education (DE), Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals (DIA) and the Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship (IDALS) have come together to help provide clarification and understanding of some issues facing Farm to School.
Produce Safety Webinar - Iowa Department of Education’s Team Nutrition Program held a webinar on how to select, receive, store, and prepare fresh produce in the school cafeteria and in the classroom. The webinar provided ideas from two Iowa schools on how they are incorporating fresh produce into their school meals program successfully. Offering fresh produce can increase a school’s meal participation and increase their options to meet the new meal pattern.
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 address some big questions, such as “who’s going to take care of the garden in the summer?” The webinar provides tips to make a school garden kid-friendly and an educational experience. Examples of rural and urban school gardens from across the state are featured.
Helping Schools Buy Local
- Tips for Starting a Farm to School Program
- FAQs on the Farm to School Program
- FAQs on Buying Local
- FAQs on Geographic Preference
- Sample Standard Operating Procedure on Direct Purchase of Local Foods
- Checklist for Retail Purchasing of Local Produce
Farm to School Classroom Resources
Midwest Dairy Council’s Ideas for the Classroom and Beyond - Farm to School Ideas for the Classroom
The Great Garden Detective Adventure: A Gardening Nutrition Curriculum for Grades 3 and 4
Dig In! Standards-Based Nutrition Education Curriculum for Grades 5 and 6
Agriculture in the Classroom Teaching Lessons
Growing Farm-to-School Workshops
Over 50 members from 13 District Farm to School Teams gathered in the Gallery of the Memorial Union on March 10th to consider strategies for increasing local food activities. The workshop was funded with a Team Nutrition Grant through USDA and hosted by Iowa Department of Education Bureau of Nutrition and Health Services, Iowa State University Families Extension, and Iowa Department of Agriculture (IDALS). The follow document is a summary of the workshop and more Farm to School information:
Growing Farm to School in Iowa was presented on May 9th, by Chef Cyndie Story, PhD, RD, CC, through the Iowa Communications Network (ICN). The presentation listed 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. The power point handout is provided below.
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
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
This document provides tips, strategies, and resources to starting a Farm to Child Care Program.