Hawai'i Joins the Farm to School Movement

united stated department of agriculture logo

Volume 3, Issue 13, May 10, 2017

The Dirt - New and Notes from FNS's Office of Community Food Systems
Hawaii governor signs bill
Hawai‘i's Governor Ige signs Farm to School Month into Hawai'i law with Act 10 (SLH 2017). Celebrating the coordinated Farm to School effort with Governor Ige was State Senators, Representatives, Department of Agriculture, Department of Education, Department of Health, State Procurement Office, USDA, Hawai'i Farm Bureau, Hawai'i Farm to School and School Garden Hui, as well as health and local food initiative supporters.

Hawai'i Establishes October as Farm to School Month

We’re a month away from summer, but many are gearing up for October. Why? What’s in October? In Hawai‘i, the Governor and State legislature will tell you it is Farm to School Month!

In an effort to align state and national efforts to celebrate farm to school, Governor David Y. Ige signed Senate Bill 882 into law on April 24, 2016 as Act 10. Hawai‘i now parallels national legislation making each and every October “Farm to School Month in Hawai‘i”. This weighty action is intended to bring attention to the coordinated farm to school activities taking place across Hawai‘i to:

  1. Serve healthy Hawai‘i-grown meals in school cafeterias;
  2. Improve student nutrition;
  3. Lower childhood obesity;
  4. Support local farmers; and
  5. Expose students to agriculture, nutrition, and educational opportunities through classroom activities, farm field trips, and school gardens.

“Farm to School Month in Hawai‘i” is another step in Hawai‘i’s efforts to advance farm to school. In 2013, the State passed Act 55, which encourages the purchase of locally grown foods by residents, businesses, and government bodies. In 2015, Act 218 was adopted establishing a farm to school program and a statewide coordinator position in the Department of Agriculture. On the ground-level, the Lt. Governor Shan S. Tsutsui spearheaded a pilot project advisory group to address challenges in local food purchasing and establish connections between the Department of Education and local agriculture. Later, the Lt. Governor, Department of Education, Department of Agriculture, State Procurement Office, and nonprofit partner The Kohala Center launched the Hawai‘i State Collaborative Farm to School Project, a first of its kind venture in Hawai‘i to work with school food services and the community at Kohala Complex on Hawaii Island to develop a locally sourced, scratch-cooked menu and promote and track healthy, local food purchases and consumption. While Hawai‘i is known for its sun and beaches, it’s definitely putting itself on the map for farm to school too. Keep an eye on this innovative state making farm to school happen!  


What's in season?

Spring is here and produce is on its way! Check out SNAP-Ed's Seasonal Produce Guide to learn more about your favorite fruits and vegetables. You will also find recipes, tips, and teaching tools to serve up seasonal produce this spring!

Need more menu ideas for your spring produce? Check out these recipes from SNAP-Ed programs around the nation!

The GREEN Tool

The GREEN Tool Research Brief

The Tisch Food Center just released the GREEN (Garden Resources, Education, and Environment Nexus) Tool, an evidence-based tool created to provide practical and flexible resources to help gardens grow deep roots in schools. This tool will help advocates, educators, and policymakers identify strategies and resources to sustain school gardens over the long term.

The Great Garden Detective Adventure

April showers bring May flowers, so let's whip those gardens into shape! Check out Team Nutrition's Great Garden Detective Adventure Curriculum for 3rd and 4th grade students. This eleven lesson curriculum will take students on an investigative hunt through the garden to learn more about their favorite fruits and vegetables.

Are you an elementary school that participates in the National School Lunch Program or another Child Nutrition Program? If so, you can request a free print copy of the curriculum.

The great garden detective

Denver Public Schools is a Leader in School Gardens

Denver Public Schools

Denver Public Schools (DPS) has been a leader for more than a decade when it comes to school gardens in large, urban school districts. They now have over 100 school gardens around the city, a standards-based 3rd through 5th grade garden curriculum (developed with the help of a 2012 USDA Farm to School Grant), and are hiring a full-time DPS Farmer!  

How do they do it?! DPS has a designated Farm to School Coordinator, Anne Wilson, who spends a portion of her time working on school gardens and farm to school.  The school garden program is also supported by the Denver School Garden Coalition (DSGC), a partnership between DPS and three garden-focused nonprofit organizations.  Each partner offers unique school garden services and support that complement one another and serve the unique needs of each school in the district.  DSGC’s School Garden Operating Manual has inspired schools around the country because of the clarity with which it addresses food safety in the garden, how to start a school garden, garden maintenance, and managing complex garden partnerships. 

DPS’ flagship school garden is a one acre farm located at the Denver Green School. In partnership with a local nonprofit organization Sprout City Farms, students help plant, tend, and harvest.  The farm provides fresh produce to the school lunchroom through its innovative Farm to Cafeteria program, and the Sprout City Farms team teaches cooking and nutrition classes during the off-season. Produce from the farm also benefits the community through a neighborhood Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, weekly farm stand, community cooking classes, and donations to local food pantries.