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Farm to early care and education (Farm to ECE) parallels the goals of early child care communities, including preschools, child care centers, family child care homes, and Head Start/Early Head Start. Farm to ECE 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 littlest 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. Learn more!

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 local food purchases for school meal and snack programs with the  Nebraska Farm to School Local Purchase Report . This report demonstrates the increasing demand for locally grown product and offers a snapshot to schools across the state as to prices being paid for Nebraska-grown fruits and vegetables. Contact USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), John Goetz at or 515-284-4460.

Benefits, Definitions, Getting Started

Harvest of the Month

Insert logo here (coming the week of July 16)

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

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 the palates of Nebraska students, and increase student interest in healthy foods, nutrition and agriculture by participating in this program.

More information will be available to schools in the Summer of 2019. Stay tuned!

Insert thumbnails of september, october and november HOM posters. (coming the week of July 16)

BFBLN is a member-based marketing, promotion, and education program. BFBLN efforts support Nebraska’s farmers, ranchers and producers to increase their knowledge of food safety regulations, and increase their market share in both rural and underserved urban communities. BFBLN develops trainings for diversified, small family farmers’ and ranchers’ to assist in business development, expands consumer awareness about local food, and encourages consumers to buy locally grown food and family farmers to raise nutritional dense and good tasting food.

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 with NDE during the 2017-2018 School Year: Litchfield Public Schools, Omaha Public Schools, Overton Public Schools, Thayer Central Community Schools and Wayne Community Schools. Coming soon, we will post case studies highlighting the unique profile of each pilot school program and their farm to school goals. Because of the efforts of these five pilot schools, X# of students have participated in farm to school, and thousands of food dollars are staying in our Nebraska economy.


Registration for Nebraska Thursdays is now open for all Nebraska schools that participate in the National School Lunch Program. Any School Food Authority (SFA) that has a permanent agreement with the Nebraska Department of Education Nutrition Services to participate in the National School Lunch Program is eligible to participate in Nebraska Thursdays.  and will remain open through April 1, 2019. 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 your district’s Food Service Manager, dig into some additional resources and explore what is available on our resources page. You can also contact your school food service manager or administrator directly to request that they sign up to participate in the program.

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

Nebraska schools serve ____ number of students a day. Nutrition education, agricultural awareness, and local economic benefits make small steps forward a big move for our students and our communities.


Every Nebraska district has unique farm to school priorities and goals, and will have distinct assets and opportunities on which to build. Start small and make plans to take one step forward in farm to school efforts. Nebraska schools across the country are jumping in to farm to school across all grade levels, from planting, harvesting and tasting in early childcare gardens, to greenhouse produce grown by FFA students and incorporated into fruit and vegetable bars, to local ranchers donating beef for the National School Lunch Program.

  • 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.
  • Ask other food service managers where they source their local foods.
    • Pose a question to other Nebraska food service managers on the discussion forum at the Nebraska School Nutrition Association.
    • Check with your distributor(s) for a list of Nebraska products that they stock on a regular basis. Look for local distributors, grower cooperatives, and food hubs for more information about food producers in your area.
  • Learn what is in season in Nebraska.
  • Produce Seasonality, Crop Extension, and Storage Resource Guide for Nebraska pdf link here
    • USDA Procuring Local Foods offers a procurement guide, webinars and fact sheets for sourcing local foods.
    • USDA Memos
      • SP-48-2016     Using Federal Funds to Support FoodCorps Service Members
      • 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 product and offers a snapshot to schools across the state as to prices being paid for Nebraska-grown fruits and vegetables. Report your school’s local purchases with USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) by contacting John Goetz at or 515-284-4460. How does Nebraska compare? Check out the AMS collected numbers from Iowa.
  • 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

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Early Childhood Nutrition Education Chart

Power Panther Preschool Implementation Manual

 Eight child care lessons that encourage fruit and vegetable consumption and increased physical activity.

Healthy Snacks and Physical Activities for Early Childhood Program

Healthy snack ideas, fun physical activities, and suggested books to incorporate into lessons in the early childhood setting.


More Than Mud Pies

This nutrition education curriculum provides both staff and children with enjoyable activities that encourage positive ideas about nutrition and foods.  The 54 lessons are built around the seasons of the year.  Children will use these age-appropriate activities to learn about growth, nutrition and preparation of foods.


Preschooler MyPlate Mini-Poster

An at-a-glance guide to healthy eating for preschoolers.


MODEL Health! Promoting Nutrition and Physical Activity in Children

Lessons for early childhood educators on nutrition and physical activity, with an emphasis on role modeling.


Color Me Healthy: Preschoolers Moving and Eating Healthy

Healthy eating and exercise program for 4 and 5-year-olds in the preschool classroom. The curriculum includes recipes, songs, and parent newsletters.

Discover MyPlate: Nutrition Education for Kindergarten

Discover MyPlate is fun and inquiry-based nutrition education that fosters the development of healthy food choices and physically active lifestyles during a critical developmental and learning period for children.

Nutrition Education Program: NEP School Enrichment Kits

 Due to special grant funding, this FREE program is only available to elementary schools where 50% or more of the students participate in the free and reduced-price school lunch program.

   Create a Classroom That Moves! 

Classroom-based physical activities are instructional tools teachers can use to improve mood, energy levels, and facilitate student learning. Activity can be introduced into existing routines and transitions, into academic lessons, or introduced as a ‘brain break.’ This kit consists of three core classroom tools: Grade-level nutrition lessons; Physical activity breaks; My Classroom Physical Activity Pyramid.


Michigan Team Nutrition Booklist

An annotated list of over 400 books with positive food, nutrition and physical activity messages for children in grades K-2.


Nutrition Education of Texas

Multidisciplinary nutrition lesson plans for grades pre-Kindergarten through High School that align with Texas education standards.


Team Nutrition Resources Chart

Team Nutrition

Team Nutrition, an initiative of the United States Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service, supports national efforts to promote lifelong healthy food choices and physical activity by improving the nutrition practices of the Child Nutrition Programs. They provide resources to schools, child care settings, and summer meal sites that participate in these programs.

CACFP Nutrition Education Resources

Teach children about healthy eating that will last them a lifetime. CACFP has resources and publications that will help you put together great tasting, nutritious meals and snacks that children will enjoy.

CACFP Meal Pattern Training Worksheets

These colorful and engaging materials can be used to empower Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) providers and operators with the knowledge, skills, and expertise to implement the updated CACFP meal pattern requirements. These tools are designed train providers, operators, menu planners, and other staff in meeting CACFP nutrition standards that include a greater variety of vegetables, more whole grains, and less added sugars and saturated fat.


MyPlate is the current nutrition guide published by the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, a food circle (i.e. a pie chart) depicting a place setting with a plate and glass divided into five food groups. MyPlate is a reminder to find a healthy eating style and maintain it throughout the life cycle.

Institute of Child Nutrition

The Institute of Child Nutrition (ICN) is the only federally funded national center dedicated to applied research, education and training, and technical assistance for child nutrition programs. The Institute’s mission is to provide information and services that promote the continuous improvement of child nutrition programs.

USDA Healthy Meals Menu Planning Tools

USDA Menu Planning Toolkit includes nutrient analysis, meal buying guide, samples menus, and training for food service providers



Farm to Preschool

Farm to Preschool is an extension of the national Farm to School movement that started with school gardening and connecting farms to schools. Farm to Preschool includes early childhood programs, preschools, Head Start programs, and center based programs serving local foods, and providing hands-on educational activities. Farm to preschool works to connect early child care and education settings to local food producers with the objectives of serving locally-grown, healthy foods, providing related nutrition education, and improving child nutrition. Farm to preschool activities can increase children’s willingness to try new foods and help them become familiar with the local foods that they will see in school.


Ways to Participate:

  1. Grow edible gardens in your center
  2. Cook with kids using locally sourced produce
  3. Take field trips to local farms
  4. Offer taste tests of regional produce in seasoCollaborate with local growers to offer foods during meal time

Helpful Links:

Nebraska Department of Education Resources:

USDA Community Food Systems Resources:

National Farm to School Network:

Find a Local Farmer’s Market

Center for Rural Affairs Farm to School Guide: