Nutrition Education – Farm To School

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Farm To School Information for Foodservice Staff

Food Service Directors have a key role to play in making Farm to School happen, Purchasing fresh, locally grown foods for your school meals can increase participation rates, expand fresh food offerings, excite students, staff and parents about school food, and support your local farming community.

Although the idea of Farm to School can seem overwhelming at first, CAFF can help you start small and build a sustainable program that has long-term support. Several food service directors in Humboldt County are already working with CAFF to bring local foods into their cafeterias, including McKinleyville Union School District, Eureka City Schools, and Fortuna Elementary School District. Contact Erin (erin@caff.org) if your district is interested in CAFF’s Farm to Cafeteria services.

Harvest of the Month Connection

A simple way for schools to begin a Farm to School program is to coordinate with the Harvest of the Month program calendar. Many of Humboldt’s elementary schools participate in the County’s Harvest of the Month program, which is working with CAFF and the North Coast Co-op to source local product when possible. To complement the lessons in the classroom, food service staff can incorporate the same, featured Harvest of the Month produce items into the salad bar or menus each month. Building out the menus in advance with a Harvest of the Month framework in mind will encourage students to eat what they learn about in the classroom, and will naturally lead to seasonal, local purchasing habits.

Food Safety

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) does not have set safety guidelines for schools wishing to purchase local foods. The USDA also does not require a specific amount if liability insurance. However, your district may have standards that you need to follow in one or both of these areas.

One advantage of working with local producers is that you have a direct connection back to the farm, making the food highly traceable. In some cases, you can go to the farm to see what practices are in place yourself. When farms are certified organic, they are already meeting many of the Good Agricultural Practices (or GAPs) that the USDA is beginning to require of large commercial farms. For ideas about how to talk with farmers about food safety, see this template from the University of Minnesota.

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