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Farm to preschool parallels the goals of early child care communities, including preschools, child care centers, family daycare homes, and Head Start/Early Head Start. Farm to preschool  prioritizes experiential learning opportunities, parent and community engagement and life-long health and wellness for children, families and caregivers. Learn how Farm to ECE can increase school gardens, food and agriculture education and local food sourcing for our youngest eaters in the childcare setting.

 Nebraska Thursdays brings schools together to serve a Nebraska-sourced meal in the cafeteria on the first Thursday of each month. Nebraska foods are celebrated and promoted by students, school staff and the local community. Any K-12 school participating in the National School Lunch Program is invited to participate.

Nebraska Harvest of the Month

Nebraska Department of Education, in partnership with Buy Fresh Buy Local Nebraska, is designing a program that promotes nine locally grown fruits and vegetables and supports schools in serving and promoting these foods in the school cafeteria.

Encourage your school to report all local food purchases by using the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) Procurement Form. Your reporting will help to demonstrate the increasing demand for locally grown products. The Nebraska Farm to School Local Purchase Report  serves as a resource of prices being paid for Nebraska grown fruits and vegetables.   For more information and to begin reporting, contact USDA AMS, John Goetz, at john.goetz@ams.usda.gov or 515-284-4460.

Benefits, Definitions, Getting Started

Harvest of the Month

The Nebraska Department of Education (NDE), in partnership with Buy Fresh Buy Local Nebraska (BFBLN), is creating a Nebraska Harvest of the Month program to increase the variety and amount of local fruits and vegetables offered in the School Meals Program. In school year 2018-2019, six Nebraska pilot schools will receive Harvest of the Month promotional materials, resources and technical assistance. All materials will be available statewide in school year 2019-2020, including recipes, posters, taste test guides and promotional tools.

Highlighted products will include: melons, cabbage, turnips, winter squash, sweet potato,  potatoes, great northern beans, leafy greens and asparagus. Schools have the opportunity to expand Nebraska students’ palates of, and increase student interest in healthy foods, nutrition and agriculture by participating.

Stay tuned for more information in the Summer of 2019.

Harvest of the Month Posters

Nebraska Thursdays

Nebraska Thursdays is a program supported by the Nebraska Department of Education (NDE) and the Center for Rural Affairs, and in collaboration with schools statewide, to serve a Nebraska-sourced meal in school cafeterias on the first Thursday of each month. Sourcing Nebraska products encourages fresh, local and healthy meals in the school cafeteria, educates students about Nebraska agriculture, and boosts our local economy.

Funded by an USDA Farm to School grant, five pilot schools participated in Nebraska Thursdays during the 2017-2018 School Year:

  • Litchfield Public Schools
  • Omaha Public Schools
  • Overton Public Schools
  • Thayer Central Community Schools
  • Wayne Community Schools.

Read the farm to school stories highlighting the unique profile of each pilot school program and their farm to school goals. The efforts of these five pilot schools has impacted almost 42,000 students and resulted in thousands of food dollars staying in the Nebraska economy.

REGISTRATION

Registration for Nebraska Thursdays is open for all Nebraska schools participating in the National School Lunch Program. Once registered, your district will have access to Nebraska Thursdays resources, promotional items and an interactive recipe portal.

To register for Nebraska Thursdays, you must be the school Food Service Director/Manager listed on the school meal application in the CNP system or person responsible for the operation of the school food service program.

Register now

If you are not the District Food Service Director/Manager:

  • Contact the Food Service Director/Manager to confirm your district’s registration for Nebraska Thursdays.
  • Once registered, the Food Service Director/Manager is provided a link that can be used by other staff members to access the Nebraska Thursdays portal.
  • Explore additional resources on the Farm to School Resources page

Additional support for this project comes from the Nebraska Dry Bean Commission, Midwest Dairy Council, and Nebraska Beef Council.

Nebraska schools serve 232,941 students daily. Nutrition education, agricultural awareness, and local economic benefits make small steps forward a big move for our students and our communities.

Resources

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.

  • National Farm to School Network provides a national scope on farm to school resources and efforts. Farm to school enriches the connection communities have with fresh, healthy food and local food producers by changing food purchasing and education practices at schools and early care and education settings.
  • USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service’s Office of Community Food Systems (OCFS) houses the USDA Farm to School program. OCFS helps child nutrition program operators incorporate local foods in the National School Lunch Program and its associated programs, as well as the Summer Food Service Program and Child and Adult Care Food Program. In addition, OCFS staff works with tribal communities to respond to their desire to better incorporate traditional foods into our meal programs. OCFS accomplishes this through grant making, training and technical assistance and research.
  • 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.
  • Self-assessment tool This simple-to-use worksheet from the Minnesota Department of Health provides a checklist to help schools evaluate their current farm to school efforts and identify next steps. 
    • USDA Procuring Local Foods offers a procurement guide, webinars and fact sheets for sourcing local foods.
    • USDA Memos
      • SP-06-2015     Farm to School and School Garden Expenses
      • SP-03-2013     Procurement Geographic Preference O&As – Part II
      • SP-01-2013     Federal Small Purchase Threshold Adjustment
      • SP-18-2011     Procurement Geographic Preference Q&As
      • SP-13-2010     Farm to School Activities
      • SP-32-2009     School Garden Q&As
      • SP-08-2009     Procurement Questions
  • 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 John Goetz at john.goetz@ams.usda.gov or 515-284-4460 for more information and to begin reporting.
  • USDA Farm to School Census is designed to help establish realistic goals to increase the availability of local foods in schools. USDA conducted the first nationwide Farm to School Census in 2013 and the second in 2015. The next Census will be in 2019.

Farm to ECE