Farm to School Serves Up Protein Power!

united stated department of agriculture logo

Volume 4, Issue 2, January 23, 2018

The Dirt - New and Notes from FNS's Office of Community Food Systems
Cafeteria carries tray of local beef
Courtesy of the Durango Herald

Durango Public Schools Beef Up Local Food on the Lunch Tray

Durango Public Schools doesn’t stop at purchasing local produce- they recently purchased four whole cows to serve almost 5,000 students in their school district this year! But they didn’t purchase just any cows – they purchased cows from a ranch located less than 30 miles from the school district. Durango Public Schools received a USDA Farm to School Grant to build a distribution center that helps them aggregate fresh, local produce and ease the burden of distributing local foods to other small school districts in the area. With this emphasis on farm to school, students like it! Krista Garand, the district’s student nutrition coordinator said, “Participation rates have gone up ... and we’ve brought in other elements, so our extra costs have gone down.”

Community Food System Resources

School lunch tray

Beef to School Webinar

Date: Tuesday, February 13, 2018 at 2:00pm MST (4:00pm EST)

Join USDA's Office of Community Food Systems, Montana Beef to School Project, Montana State University, and school food service directors to learn about successful strategies for serving local beef in schools. The webinar will explore the Montana Beef to School Project’s findings and resources - including two new beef to school solicitation templates designed to help school districts purchase local beef! Participants will also hear from two school food service directors who will share their strategies and lessons learned for purchasing and serving local beef in schools.

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#ServeUpChange: Become a FoodCorps Service Member

Do you want to serve your community by growing healthier kids, healthier schools, and a more just world? FoodCorps is looking for people like you for a paid, full-time year of service.

Apply to be a FoodCorps service member now!!

FoodCorps AmeriCorps service members work with schools, local organizations, and communities to build healthy school food environments. Here’s what they do:

  • Hands-on learning: Teach students to grow, cook, and taste new foods, building their skills and helping them fall in love with fruits and veggies;
  • Healthy School Meals: Cultivate a cafeteria experience that steers students toward the healthiest options and gets them excited to try new foods and
  • Schoolwide Culture of Health: Collaborate with the school community to ensure that the whole school environment—from hallways to classrooms to cafeteria to grounds—celebrates healthy food. 

Apply by March 15 to become a FoodCorps service member!

Farmers selling produce

USDA Now Accepting Vendor Applications for 2018 Farmers Market Season

The U. S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is accepting applications from farmers, growers and other producers for its 2018 farmers market season, which opens Friday, May 4, 2018.

Farmers, ranchers and growers who sell what they grow, raise or produce on their farm; and local producers who make products featuring agricultural foods from the Chesapeake Bay region (including the states of Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia), and preferably within a 200-mile radius of Washington, D.C. are encouraged to apply.

Farm to School Spotlights

Cafeteria staff sorting local pinto beans

Farm to School Goes Lean with Local Beans

The Greeley-Evans School District in Colorado takes local protein beyond meat – they source dried, local beans for school meals! They will use approximately 1,500 pounds of dried pinto beans this school year from Leffler Family Farms in Eaton, Colorado. The pinto beans will be featured on the menu in a scratch-cooked bean and cheese burrito as well as other student-approved recipes. Pinto beans are an excellent alternative as a non-meat option for vegetarians and are packed with protein and fiber.

Massachusetts Farm to School logo

Farm to School Surfs the Seas for Local Seafood

New England coastal communities are bringing the sea to school! From Maine to the mid-Atlantic, schools are finding that local seafood is an excellent addition to the lunch tray. For example, Gloucester, Massachusetts, a well-known historic fishing community, wasn’t always the stage for direct purchasing relationships between local seafood purveyors and schools. But when the Gloucester Public Schools Food Service Director saw an opportunity to swap frozen Alaskan Pollack for fish coming off of local boats, a mutually beneficial relationship was born.

May is Seafood Month logo

Kids in Gloucester are now being exposed to the active fishing industry in their community, tasting new recipes, and learning more about seafood. Fishers and distributors also have a new outlet for their catch. What’s more, seafood is May’s Harvest of the Month in Massachusetts! The Massachusetts Farm to School Project provides procurement tips, promotional materials, taste testing, and curriculum guidance to encourage school districts across the state to support local seafood economies while exposing children to new local products.