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Watch a Webinar on Garden To Cafeteria hosted by the School Garden Support Organization Network
Starting a school garden-to-cafeteria program involves additional coordination, effort and logistics. Implementation can be simple or complex depending on the size and scope of the school garden-to-cafeteria program (which could range from including greens or tomatoes in a salad bar in a single school to integrating produce into a lunch menu used district wide). If the school district contracts with a management company or other vendor to supply school lunches, an adjustment to the contract may be necessary.
There is no provision in the National School Lunch Program or other federal law that prevents school cafeterias from using school garden produce. In fact, you might be surprised to know that there are USDA Bulletins that state federal school food service funds can be used to purchase edible school gardening supplies and to support farm to school efforts. See:
You might also be interested in Legal Issues Impacting Schoolyard Gardens presentation given at the 2013 Minnesota SchoolYard Garden Conference by Mary Marrow from the Public Health Law Center at William Mitchell College of Law.
Below are examples of policy that have been created and adopted by various districts and states that provide protocol for harvesting, handling and serving garden grow produce. Also listed are general resources for school garden management and produce handling.
CDE School Garden Management Bulletin created for School Nutrition Departments, responds to frequently asked questions regarding school gardens and using/purchasing produce from them.
USDA’s Farm to School SCHOOL GARDENS Using Gardens to Grow Healthy Habits in Cafeterias, Classrooms and Communities a four page guide.
Eat What You Grow! A School Garden Food Safety Manual for Chicago Public Schools created by FamilyFarmed.org is a 72 page comprehensive guide with step-by-step instructions, and record keeping templates and well developed appendices to allow school garden operators to make sure their produce meets high food safety standards.
Oregon Department of Education School Garden Food Safety Training & Documentation Manual Downloadable guides, checklists and posters to enable you to serve food from your school garden safely.
Miami-Dade County Public Schools procedure bulletin on incorporating school garden produce into school food service.
Denver Public Schools Garden to Cafeteria Program is a nice example of a district wide program to support garden to cafeteria.
Denver Public School Garden Manual is a nice example of resources to district wide policy to support the the inclusion of school garden produce in the cafeteria.
San Diego Unified Garden to Cafe Program Protocol
Garden to Café allows school gardens to serve fresh garden grown foods as part of the school meal program. View their full program outline and documents.
Garden to Cafeteria: A Step-by-Step Guide created by the Center for Regional Food Systems and Michigan State University
Alaska School Garden Food Safety Guidelines nice example of guidelines for maintaining a healthy edible garden program. Nice image of easy to create garden hand-washing station.
Best Practices for Hawaii School Gardens – Comprehensive details about pesticides, safety, tips for setting up a seller display of produce. Provides a summary of Good Agricultural Practices tips.
Nevada Department of Agricultures Farm to School Food Safety Program resources include school garden food safety guidelines, useful resources, and sample forms for running a garden program.
Food Safety in the School Garden from the University of Maryland.
Santa Monica / Malibu Unified School District School Garden Food Safety Checklist and School Garden Produce Donation and Selling Protocol
UCONN Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity Legislation Database tracks state and federal policies related to obesity and diet-related diseases in issue areas including access to healthy food, breastfeeding, farms and gardens, school nutrition and physical activity, food assistance programs, marketing/advertising to children, menu and package labeling, and food and beverage taxes.
Slow Food USA has a great chapter on Policy for School Gardens. It outlines the different levels of policy that can be used to support garden programs.
Slow Food USA list of Garden to Cafeteria Protocols
Safety in the Garden handout from the CDE School Garden Resource Packet
Serving School Garden Produce in the Cafeteria from Change Lab Solutions
Best Practices for Using Garden Produce in Cafeteria a simple two page document from the National Farm to School website. Download
A Handbook for Beginning + Veteran Garden Organizers: How to Reduce Food Safety Risks A 15 page guide from North Carolina State University and North Carolina Cooperative Extension.
California’s Farm to Fork How to Safely Handle Fresh Produce from Farm to Fork a 22 page guide – has a section on school garden safety.
Sonoma County created The Approved Produce Gardener Certificate Program, a protocol tool that shows how to implement garden management safety.
Safe Handling of Fruits and Vegetables Brochure
- Food Safety Tips for School Gardens Fact Sheet
- Handling Fresh Produce in Classrooms Fact Sheet
- they also have a powerpoint on school gardens from the food service/safety perspective
Applying Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) to Farm-to-School and School Gardens. Webinar content from the School Nutrition Association
Public Health Law and Policy’s Site Lists sample school board resolution to support farm to school. It also includes very detailed documentation related to policy on Serving School Garden Grown Produce to Students.
Iowa State’s Online School Garden School Food Safety Training includes videos, quizzes, worksheets for students, and a comprehensive On Farm Food Safety Manual: School Garden.
School Garden Food Safety comprehensive resources and online training from the University of Arizona.
Looking for more Food Safety Lessons and Resources for Instructing Kids?
Let’s Go Local: Recommendations for Linking Locally Grown Food, School Gardens, and Joint-Use Agreements to School Wellness Policies View
Judy Honerkamp and Lunch Lady Amy share how they include garden grown food in school lunch.
Ft. Bragg Food Service Director and Food Service Staff talk about using garden produce in school lunch. See the 5:50 mark to jump to the conversation.
For over 30 years Pacific Elementary School has had a strong garden to cafeteria connection. This small school campus food service is ran by students!
The Education Fund shares an overview of their Food Forest programs and how it is tied to cafeteria and community nutrition.