Schools across the state are digging into farm to school activities. Across all grade levels and interests, students are planting, harvesting and tasting in early childcare gardens; FFA students are growing produce in school greenhouses and cafeterias are incorporating the fresh produce into fruit and vegetable bars; and local ranchers are donating beef for the National School Lunch Program. Review the resources and best practices available below.
The Patrick Leahy Farm to School Program helps child nutrition program operators incorporate local foods in the National School Lunch Program, the Summer Food Service Program and Child and Adult Care Food Program and all associated programs. In addition, USDA staff work with tribal communities by promoting food sovereignty and the integration of traditional food ways into tribal meal programs.
- The Patrick Leahy Farm to School Team offers over 20 different fact sheets on a variety of topics, ranging from school gardening to local meat.
- To receive information and updates from the Patrick Leahy Farm to School Program, please sign up for The Dirt monthly e-letter.
Nebraska Dry Bean Commission (NDBC) supports Nebraska dry bean growers and processors through programs of research, education and promotion. A strong supporter of farm to school, follow NDBC events, trainings and recipes at https://www.facebook.com/nebraskadrybean/
Midwest Dairy (MWD) is home to thousands of dairy farmers who are committed to providing nutritious, wholesome milk and dairy products. They share a great responsibility as stewards of land, resources and, of course, their cows! MWD offers many dairy resources for educators, including lesson plans, activities, live/recorded virtual resources and grant funds that are available to promote farm to school efforts.
Nebraska Beef Council (NBC) is a resource for Nebraska community members, beef producers and beef processors, as well as schools. NBC is an expert in agriculture and culinary education and provides resources and tools for recipe development, nutrition and agriculture education and making connections to producers and processors.
Center for Rural Affairs (CFRA) is a supporting farm to school partner and a leading force engaging people to build a better rural future. CFRA provides resources, support and training for new and beginning farmers, and leads efforts on local food and farm policy, network development and small business training, technical assistance and financing.
Buy Fresh Buy Local Nebraska (BFBL) is a supporting farm to school partner and leader in promoting the production and consumption of local food. BFBL identifies the needs of diversified family farms for training and technical assistance, makes connections from growers to markets, and expands consumer awareness about local producers and businesses.
Nebraska Extension’s Regional Food System Initiative (NeRFSI) is a supporting farm to school partner focused on enhancing the lives of all Nebraskans through research-based education. NeRFSI works across all sectors of the food system to increase production and consumption of local foods, and raise awareness of the value of agriculture in our communities.
National Farm to School Network (NFSN) is an information, advocacy and networking hub for communities working to bring local food sourcing and food and agriculture education into school systems and early care and education environments. Nebraska Department of Education Nutrition Services is the core partner in Nebraska with NFSN for farm to school work.
This Vermont FEED Guide is intended to support school communities in developing robust, long lasting, and integrated farm to school programs, addressing whole school change.
USDA’s Farm to School Planning Toolkit This reference for starting or growing a farm to school program is designed for use by schools, school districts and community partners.
Use local food and product directories.
Looking for a local meat processor?
Ask other food service managers where they source their local foods.
Check with your distributor(s) for a list of Nebraska products that they stock on a regular basis. Search for local distributors, grower cooperatives, and food hubs for more information about food producers in your area.
How Are Nebraska Schools Sourcing Local Food? This infographic outlines the many different ways local foods are accessible to schools:
USDA Procuring Local Foods offers a procurement guide, webinars and fact sheets for sourcing local foods.
- SP 07-2016, SFSP 07-2016 Local Foods and Related Activities in Summer Meal Programs, with Questions and Answers
- SP 01-2016 Procuring Local Meat, Poultry, Game, and Eggs in Child Nutrition Programs
- SP-06-2015 Farm to School and School Garden Expenses
- SP-18-2011 Procurement Geographic Preference Q&As
- SP-03-2013 Procurement Geographic Preference Q&As – Part II
- SP-01-2013 Federal Small Purchase Threshold Adjustment
- SP-13-2010 Farm to School Activities
- SP-32-2009 School Garden Q&As
- SP-08-2009 Procurement Questions
Nebraska Beef Council
Fresh Beef in Wayne Community Schools
Nebraska Farm to School Local Purchase Report demonstrates the increasing demand for locally grown products and serves as a resource of prices being paid for Nebraska grown fruits and vegetables. Report your school’s local purchases by using the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) Procurement Form. Contact Dillan Hull at Dillan.Hull@usda.gov or 515-284-4460 for more information and to begin reporting.
In fall 2023, FNS will field the 2023 Farm to School Census to request information from school food authorities (SFAs) regarding their use of local food in school meals and other participation in farm to school activities in school year 2022-23. This nationwide survey is the largest of its kind, collecting information from more than 18,000 public, private, and charter SFAs who participate in the National School Lunch Program.
The Center for Rural Affairs is working with schools across Nebraska to revamp greenhouse programs. See their newly published resource “From Greenhouse to Cafeteria: A Toolkit for Creating and revamping greenhouse programs in Nebraska Schools”
This guide can assist teachers, administrators, FFA instructors, and students in:
- Forming a greenhouse committee,
- Creating a purpose and goals for a greenhouse,
- Establishing a greenhouse curriculum,
- Designing and maintaining a greenhouse system, and
- Creating a managing a production plan.
The toolkit also includes a list of online resources instructor and students can turn to for further instruction. View the resource here.
Greenhouse Manual: An Introductory Guide for Educators
United States Botanic Garden, the National Association for Appropriate Technology and City Blossoms developed this freely available manual in response to an expressed need to help guide would-be greenhouse managers and educators as their schools explore ways to build new infrastructure or reinvest in existing greenhouse facilities. Its purpose is to support and expand the planting and use of school gardens and greenhouses, farm to school activities, and the integration of plant science in the curriculum. The manual lays out a basic understanding of greenhouses, how to integrate greenhouses into lessons, and how to use greenhouses in classroom curricula and after-school activities. View the resource here.
Infographic: Getting Started With Farm to School, for Farmers
Farm Bio (a fillable sheet for producers to share with school buyers about their farms, farm products, and contact information)
This report examines the three interconnected components essential to taking farm to school to the next level statewide, both economically and educationally. It examines procurement in school meal programs, education within the school system as well as the community, and policy recommendations.
This bill is an act to adopt the Farm to School Program Act. It was implemented in 2021.
In 2018 Nebraska School Garden Assessment In October 2018, the University of Nebraska led efforts on a Nebraska School Garden Assessment and received 361 survey responses. The purpose of this research was to gather information about Nebraska school gardens and growing spaces in order to support creation, management, and use of these spaces.
In 2017 Farm to Early Care and Education Survey: In October 2017, the Nebraska Department of Education sent a survey to Nebraska early care and education providers to determine current farm to preschool activity and needs to support farm to preschool efforts.