Farm to Cafeteria Resources
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Farm to Cafeteria is the process of facilitating and procuring locally grown, GAP-certified produce, meat, and seafood from a grower into the school. This may be a part of the school lunch program, but it could also be a part of Alternative Breakfast or the fresh fruit and vegetable program. There are a variety of pathways that this might happen, including working with food distribution companies, sourcing from a farmer directly, using NCDA&CS’s Farm to School program as well as other methods that might encourage a student to try and eat local foods from the cafeteria line including taste tests, cooking classes with cafeteria staff and programs that connects chefs to schools.
The USDA released the survey results of their Farm to Schools program, which showed that more than 75% of NC school districts are participating. About 19% of NC school food was purchased locally, investing $34.4M back into the regional economy.
On This Page
- Growers/Farmers selling directly to schools: GAP certified growers are eligible to sell to school districts in North Carolina. A number of school districts have successfully purchased locally grown produce through the formal bidding process or sometimes through the small purchase threshold (<$3,000).
- Food Distribution Companies: Food distribution companies work with local school districts to fulfill fresh fruit and vegetable bids and use locally procured food.
NC Farm to School Program: The North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services Farm to School program supplies school cafeterias across the state with locally grown produce from North Carolina farms. The program works as a broker between school systems and a grower cooperative to provide access to fresh fruits and vegetables.
- NC Department of Public Instruction’s School Nutrition Services: Administers the National School Lunch Program, the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable grant program, and Summer Feeding (among other programs) and is a key ally in ensuring all kids have access to good, healthy food.
- Breakfast Programs
- USDA Farm to School Fact Sheets: A wealth of resources by USDA’s FNS Farm to School program that breaks down the complicated intricacies of the National School Lunch Program and other feeding programs and the possibilities for local procurement within these systems.
- The Farm to School Coalition of NC: A gathering of organizations all across the state trying to network and share best practices with Farm to School in NC.
- Farm to Child Care Project: Wake County SmartStart in partnership with N.C. Cooperative Extension, Wake County Center and Advocates for Health in Action have received generous funding through the John Rex Endowment to help childcare facilities make changes so it becomes the norm to prepare and serve fresh, local produce for snacks and meals throughout growing seasons.
- Taste Tests: Taste tests are a great way to introduce kids to fruits and vegetables and new dishes. This can be done in the classroom or cafeteria.
- Farm to School Cookbook: School meals are a popular way of implementing local, nutritious foods to students. This cookbook shares tips on including local food in entrees and side and how to cook, prepare, and serve local food in schools.