Nebraska Farm to Summer

TomatoeWith harvests at their peak in many regions, summer is a perfect time to highlight local products and get kids involved in food, agriculture, and nutrition-based activities.  Incorporating local foods into Summer Meal Programs can increase the quality and appeal of meals, connect the community with local agricultural producers, and provide hands-on enrichment activities that keep children and teens nourished and engaged while school is out.

Why Farm to Summer?


Farm to summer provides kids with access to nutritious, high-quality, local food so they are ready to learn, grow and prepare for school to return in the fall.  Farm to summer activities enhance education through hands-on learning, taste testing, agriculture, nutrition, and health.


Farm to summer can serve as a significant financial opportunity for farmers, fishers, ranchers, food processors and food manufacturers by opening market diversification and opportunities to increase profits.


Farm to summer provides opportunities to build family and community engagement by enriching the connection communities have with
fresh, healthy food and local food producers.

Let’s Turnip the Beet, Nebraska!

The USDA established the Turnip the Beet award specifically for summer meal programs that provide high-quality meals to students. Summer meals have a positive impact on children and communities by providing nutritious meals, sourcing local foods, and encouraging healthy behaviors. This award showcases programs across the nation who work hard to offer nutritious, appealing, and appetizing
meals during summer months. Apply today to showcase the great summer meals being provided in Nebraska!

Who is eligible, and how do they apply?

All Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) sponsors are eligible for a Turnip the Beet award. The application must include a completed nomination form, and detailed meal documentation.  You may submit your own menu to document meal patterns, or use this Turnip the Beet template, save as your own file, and submit it as menu documentation.

What are the prizes?

Besides making a positive impact in your community, three award levels are available: bronze, silver, and gold. All winners receive a certificate and are featured in various USDA and Nebraska newsletters!

To apply:

If you have any questions, please contact

Summer Feeding Sample Menu

Sample Cold Menu(Click to view a pdf file of this menu)

All meals served in the SFSP must meet certain requirements in order to receive reimbursement. These meal pattern requirements, outlined in Lunch Meal Pattern Planning, are designed to help the menu planner provide well-balanced, healthy meals that meet the nutritional and energy needs of children. The one-month cold sample menu outlines various food items and meal pattern requirements.

Local Food and Producers

There are many definitions of “local food”, but the concept is based primarily on distance. Eating locally first means choosing food that is grown and harvested close to where you live, and distributed over shorter distances than is usually the case. With Nebraska being a large agricultural state, eating locally may be easier than you think!

There are numerous potential benefits of eating local:

  • It is good for the environment. Local food does not have to travel as far to arrive on your plate, helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and contributes to improving our carbon footprint.
  • It benefits the local economy, including supporting local farmers and other producers.
  • It may have a higher nutrient value, as food that is grown and harvested locally is usually given more time to ripen.
  • We might be biased, but we think eating local just tastes better. Have you ever tried any melons as good as Nebraska watermelon?

Where can I find local producers?

Buy Fresh Buy Local Nebraska

A member-based marketing, promotion, and education program helping to support state’s farmers, ranchers and producers. A great resource for finding local food!

Nebraska Market Maker

A database featuring a diverse community of food-related businesses: buyers, farmers/ ranchers, farmers markets, and more. A simple yet powerful resource to connect with others across the production and distribution chain.

Nebraska Farmers Markets and Produce Vendor

A search tool for finding local farmers markets and produce vendors to provide fresh food for your school.

LoneTree FoodsLoneTree Foods

Nebraska’s local food distributor! Connecting small farms and food producers to stores, local restaurants, schools and families.

Nebraska Food Cooperative

Nebraska’s online, year-round farmers’ market and local food distribution service. It is as easy as 1-2- 3! Order foods online through, NFC collects your order directly from Nebraskan farmers and ranchers, you order is delivered to designated sites around Nebraska for your collection!

Harvest of the Month

Nebraska Harvest of the Month is a statewide farm to school program that features a different Nebraska specialty crop each month of the year. This program promotes local sourcing of fruits and vegetables, and provides schools with resources to support sampling and serving local foods to students. Schools have the opportunity to expand Nebraska students’ palates and increase student interest in healthy foods, nutrition and agriculture by participating. A Nebraska Harvest of the Month Toolkit featuring local recipes, taste testing guides, posters, stickers, coloring sheets and more are available on the Nebraska Farm To School webpage.

Farm to Summer Resources USDA Food and Nutrition Service

  • Nutrition Guide for Sponsors: this tool helps sponsors plan and serve menus with a variety of nutrient-rich foods and beverages.
  • Summer Meals Toolkit: this toolkit provides creative ideas for program operators and community partners to make summer meal planning easy, to raise awareness for
    summer meals, and strategies for overcoming barriers to serve nutritious foods that are appealing to children.
  • Farm to Summer Factsheet: this factsheet identifies strategies for integrating local food into summer meals.
  • FNS Documents and Resources: this recourse offers free nutrition education materials that help reinforce and complement the nutrition messages taught by serving healthful foods.
Updated August 12, 2022 8:56am