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.
Iowa Local Food
- Iowa Local Food Day - A celebration of Iowa farmers and local foods during National Farm to School Month. The annual event brings together all sectors of Farm to School, unifying the state around the success of our farms, children, and schools. To participate, schools must serve at least two items (dishes for breakfast and lunch) with primarily locally sourced items.
- Farm to School Cycle Menu - Created by school food service directors in Northeast Iowa as an easy way to incorporate more Iowa-grown foods onto school lunch trays. Includes a 5-week cycle menu, incorporates Iowa-grown foods each week including fruit, vegetables, meat and dairy and offers fall, winter and spring variations.
Buying Local Food
- Iowa Farm to School Local Purchase Report - Report your school's local purchases with USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) by contacting John Goetz at email@example.com or 515-284-4460. Demonstrates the increasing demand for locally grown product and offers a snapshot to schools across the state as to prices being paid for Iowa-grown fruits and vegetables.
- Sample Standard Operating Procedure on Direct Purchase of Local Foods
- Checklist for Retail Purchasing of Local Produce
- USDA Procuring Local Foods
- 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.
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.
- Food Safety for School Gardens Online Training - 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.