Join us for Farm to School Census Webinar

united stated department of agriculture logo

Volume 2, Issue 21, July 12, 2016

The Dirt - New and Notes from FNS's Office of Community Food Systems
Farm to School Works

Join us for a webinar on the Farm to School Census

In 2015, USDA completed the second national Farm to School Census measuring the extent to which schools are purchasing local foods and completing additional farm to school activities. Results show that during the 2014-2015 school year, 42% of all public school districts, private schools and charter schools operated farm to school programs. Together, these schools and school districts purchased almost $800 million of local foods.

Join USDA, along with co-host National Farm to School Network, for a webinar on Thursday, August 11 at 3:00 pm ET for an in-depth review of the Farm to School Census. Presenters will provide an overview of the Farm to School Census website including the recently posted raw data files and soon to be released data explorer tool. Presenters will also describe ways in which Census data can be used at the local, state, and national levels in support of farm to school.

farm to school buttons

Visit us at SNA ANC!

Find us in USDA Lane at booth 2051. We have all of our new fact sheets, pins, temporary tattoos, and stickers. We're here to answer your questions. Please come tell us your farm to school story!

Moo-ving beyond fruits and vegetables: Incorporating local meat in child nutrition programs


Policy Memo Clarifies Local Meat Purchasing

Fruits and vegetables are often gateway products to farm to school programs, but many districts are filling out their meals with local meat products too! From buffalo in Montana, chicken in California, to beef in Nebraska, schools are finding a place for locally raised protein products in the cafeteria. Here are a few highlights of a memo we released last year that outlines the food safety requirements for purchasing and serving poultry, livestock, game and eggs in child nutrition programs:

  • Livestock must be slaughtered at a state or USDA inspected facility to be served in child nutrition programs (CNPs).
  • FNS recommends that poultry be slaughtered at a state or USDA inspected facility to be served in CNPs, though there are a few exemptions from inspection and schools could purchase from producers operating under an exemption.
  • Wild and domesticated game must be voluntarily inspected at state or USDA inspected facility to be served in CNPs.
  • Egg products (liquid, frozen, dried) must be USDA inspected. Shell eggs do not need to be pasteurized.

Buying Local Meat Fact Sheet

Fact Sheet Provides Tips for Buying Local Meat

Opportunities span the meal tray and the calendar year for serving up tasty local meats at lunch, in Summer Meals, and in the pre-K environments: name the program and local meats have a place on the tray. Here are our top tips for serving up local meat:

  1. Keep your options open! Meat used in the National School Lunch Program does not have to come just from federally inspected sources.
  2. Some like it raw, some like it hot (cooked, that is). School Food FOCUS developed resources to help school districts source raw or pre-cooked antibiotic-free chicken for use in school meals.
  3. Be brave! Approach a rancher or processor directly; just pick up the phone and call! You’ll get your questions answered and may even score some tasty samples.

Check out our Local Meat in Schools Fact Sheet!

This Old Farm Logo

Grantee Spotlight

This Old Farm, Inc. is a Food Hub in Colfax, Indiana with a “mission to support the family farm by processing, marketing, and distributing locally raised, wholesome meat, produce, and value added food.” Through their FY2015 support service grant, This Old Farm is offering farm to school solutions by training producers on topics such as Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) and crop planning, and implementing a mentorship program for food service managers on processing and portion control.

As their grant has progressed, This Old Farm recognized that in addition to the need for increased infrastructure around procuring fresh fruit and vegetables, there is an equal need to support procurement around locally-grown proteins, such as meat. As a result, This Old Farm began to focus more on protein procurement in their food service manager mentorship program. Now in their second year of their grant, they are getting local meat into a local high school culinary program, two different school districts, and a local youth center. Two schools that are starting their own beef growing programs are partnering with This Old Farm for slaughter services. As their grant moves forward, they are building partnerships to bring local meat into school districts throughout the region, while continuing to deliver more local fruit and vegetables to schools in collaboration with the Indiana Farm to School Network.

This Old Farm reminds us of the importance of being flexible and of building local partnerships.

Keep up the great work!

SNAP EBT at Farmers Market

SNAP Farmers Market Webpage Streamlined

By Jessica Shahin, Associate Administrator, USDA Food and Nutrition Service

Expanding access to the healthy foods available at farmers markets and farm stands for those participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) has been – and continues to be – a USDA priority. For several years now, we’ve provided funding to equip farmers markets and direct marketing farmers with the electronic technology they need to redeem SNAP benefits. The results speak for themselves. In 2008, there were only 753 SNAP-authorized markets and farmers. Today, that number has grown to more than 6,400 – more than eight times the number of SNAP-authorized farmers markets compared to when the Obama Administration first took office.