Nutrition Service staff have a key role in creating a successful Farm to School program. Through procurement and recipe development of local products, staff have the opportunity to engage and have positive, fun, interactive learning experiences with their student customers about food and where it comes from. Local procurement also benefits the community in which staff members live.
Benefits for the Nutrition Service Department1
- Increase in school meals program participation by 3-16%.
- Due to increase meals participation, along with competitive pricing, increased funding for additional labor and equipment.
- Increased interaction, involvement and engagement between food service staff and students/teachers through working with local foods, testing new recipes, and strengthening the classroom-cafeteria connection.
- Increase student’s intake of fruit and vegetables by 1-1 ½ servings per day.
- Improved nutrition knowledge as students choose healthier food and know where their food comes from.
Marketing Resources, Tools, and Examples
Recipes, Menus, and Kitchen Materials
A key component to Farm to School programs is serving seasonal fresh whole foods in the cafeteria, which usually involves changing cooking practices in the kitchen. Here are some resources to help Nutrition Services Staff transition to (and embrace!) using a Farm to School approach.
- Colorado FTS Cookbook for School Food Services [PDF] [DOC]
- Food Safety Flyers, including Management and Serving Practices, Refrigeration Storage, and Storing Fresh Produce.
- Produce Seasonality Chart (Colorado)
- Sample Calendar Menu – Elementary School [English] [Spanish]
- Sample Calendar Menu – Middle School [English] [Spanish]
- USDA “Promoting your FTS Program” resources, including online training for food service professionals, the Minnesota Toolkit for School Food Service, and more Menus, Calendars and Recipes!
- Year-Round Local Food Calendars
- 1FTS Benefits Fact Sheet
- Arizona Department of Education
- Colorado Schools Doing Farm to School (google map)
- Colorado Farm to School
- Center for Nutrition – Farm to School Toolkit, including food safety resources, seasonality charts, case studies, process checklists, and more.
- National Farm to School Network
- National Farm to School Month Resources
- REAP Food Group
- USDA Food & Nutrition Service – Farm to School Resources, including seasonality charts, safety checklist, procurement checklist, USDA FTS webinars, menu planning, curriculum, evaluation and more.
- Wisconsin Farm to School