Farm to Summer Kick-Off
Programs all across
the country have sent us their summer stories with a common theme: farm to
school does not take a summer vacation! As the school year draws to a close,
schools and nonprofit sponsors of USDA’s
Summer Meals Programs gear up to provide healthy meals
and learning opportunities to keep kids active, nourished, and engaged while
school is out. Extending farm to school practices
in the summer months is an excellent way to do just that! To get a taste of farm to summer
in action, watch the video to see how Green
Mountain Farm-to-School’s The Lunchbox serves up locally
sourced meals alongside fun food and nutrition related activities.
Spotlight on Summer
For the past two summers, we’ve asked you to share your story
about incorporating local foods and agriculture-based activities into your
summer meals programs.
What have we heard?
Marion City School District (OH) aligns school gardens with summer feeding sites and invites
local Master Gardeners during meal times, which helps to keep the gardens
maintained and thriving while school is out and also offers up the perfect
Dallas Independent School District (TX) hosts a “Meet the Farmer” event at a meals site, giving kids
the opportunity to meet the farmer who grew the blueberries and peaches that they
enjoy all summer long.
Kalispell Public Schools (MT) continues a
purchasing relationship with a local beef producer to serve up local polish hot
dogs alongside greens that are purchased in partnership with a local community
college’s Community Supported Agriculture (CSA).
North Kingstown School District (RI) enjoys an extension of their growing season, thanks to a fresh
frozen pilot coordinated by partner Farm Fresh Rhode Island, and serves local
corn to kick off their summer meals program.
We’d love to hear what farm to summer looks like in your community!
Send us a photo or two and a description of how you bring local
foods and farm-based fun to kids and teens during the summer months, and we’ll
feature the most creative practices in our E-letter and/or on our blog to shine
a national spotlight on your programming!
Check out Team Nutrition’s Summer Food, Summer Moves resources, and a Healthy
Meals Tip Sheet that helps program operators and
partners support a healthy summer break.
State agencies, program sponsors, and partners can find guidance
about serving local foods in USDA’s Local
Foods and Related Activities in Summer Meals Programs policy memo.
USDA’s Summer Meals Toolkit features
material on incorporating local foods and related activities into summer meals
programs. Whether you’re a state or local agency, nonprofit partner, school
district, or producer/provider, you’ll find helpful hints here on ways to
continue farm to school activity while school is out.
Visit our Farm to
Summer page on our website for these and more USDA and partnering organization
In our most recent USDA
Farm to School Census, 22% of participating farm to
school districts reported also serving local foods in their summer programming!
Check out results from your state and local community.
REAP Food Group (REAP) is an FY2014 support service
grantee from Madison, WI. REAP’s project focuses on establishing systems to increase the amount of locally‐grown fruits and
vegetables sold to schools. REAP’s first step was to
connect farmers, processors, and buyers at the Madison Metropolitan School
District (MMSD) to supply Wisconsin produce for the district’s new salad bars. REAP reflects on the work they did in the early spring:
“This quarter we led MMSD through a Request for Information (RFI)
process for farm to school produce. This was a direct result of our Action Plan
following a visit to Minneapolis Public Schools in November. This RFI process
is a method for gathering information from local suppliers to determine the
following: farms and vendors interested in selling to the district, products
available, pricing, and other information to facilitate local sales to MMSD.
Through this process, we have identified a list
of growers and produce vendors that can supply local produce items for the
upcoming Summer Food Program and 2016-2017 school year, approximate quantities to be purchased, and a
Congratulations on the awesome work, REAP!
Salad bar sign created by REAP
By Kevin Concannon, Undersecretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services
It may seem like common sense for child nutrition programs to benefit children, but some see it differently today.
Nationwide, schools have made the lunchroom a healthy environment. In
fact, in only the second school year of full implementation of the
Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA), over 98 percent of schools
participating are already meeting the healthier meal standards.
Students are eating more fruits and vegetables during the school day and
more low-income children are eating nutritious breakfasts and lunches
at school. And data show obesity rates for some children are leveling
off. With all the success of HHFKA, now is not the time to intentionally
go backwards on nutrition standards in healthier school meals and to
block access to these meals for millions of children.