The Dirt: Everyone is Excited About Farm to School Month

Volume 6, Issue 2, October, 2019

Secretary Purdue with students at Eplegaarden Apple Orchard with



Everyone Is Excited About Farm to School Month!

USDA Secretary Sonny Purdue Visits Wisconsin and Promotes Farm to School Month

On Tuesday, October 1, 2019, USDA Secretary Purdue kicked off Farm to School Month with the students of Wisconsin's Sugar Creek Elementary School. The Secretary joined the students for lunch and then visited the Eplegaarden Apple Orchard to participate in the "Great Apple Crunch", which is an annual event that helps teach kids about the importance of eating healthy, locally produced, food.

Immediately after the orchard tour and Apple Crunch event, the Secretary sat down with a number of prior USDA Farm to School Grant recipients. Participants shared highlights of the Wisconsin farm to school program and discussed ways USDA can better support farm to school activities nationwide.

Leaders Emerge as 2019 Farm to School Census Deadline Nears

The 2019 Farm to School Census is underway. Some States are leading the way, with a high percentage of their School Food Authorities (SFAs) completing their Farm to School Census Surveys.

States with higher rates of Census completion are able to tell a more detailed story about all the farm to school activities going on in their States. We ranked the highest SFA response rates by State so far. All States on this list have at least a 40 percent response rate or higher.


American Samoa




Northern Mariana Islands
















South Dakota






Puerto Rico






West Virginia







Hats off to the SFAs that have stepped up and completed their Farm to School Census Surveys promptly.

We encourage all SFAs to complete the 2019 Farm to School Census as soon as possible. The Farm to School Census is critical for our understanding of the state of farm to school programming in the United States.

Get counted! Please help ensure that we tell the complete story about all the schools participating in farm to school, and complete the 2019 Census today.

Please visit the Farm to School Respondent Resources page for more information on completing the Farm to School Census.

Dig In To Celebrate National Farm to School Month!

By: National Farm to School Network

Every October, when gardens and farms are full of harvest bounty and students are sliding up to lunchroom tables, communities across the country come together to recognize the meaningful connections happening between students and local foods. That’s what National Farm to School Month is all about! In 2010, the National Farm to School Network advocated that Congress designate October as National Farm to School Month (House Resolution 1655). This yearly celebration now brings together millions of students, educators, parents, farmers and food producers, school nutrition professionals, food advocates, and community members to raise awareness of the important role of farm to school and farm to early care and education in improving child nutrition, supporting local economies, and fostering vibrant communities.

National Farm to School Month is for everyone! Here are a few simple ideas for making your mark on farm to school this October:

DIG IN: National Farm to School Month is a time to celebrate all that farm to school has accomplished, and a time to dig in to keep these efforts growing! Check out the  National Farm to School Month Celebration Toolkit for more than 60+ action ideas you take to deepen your farm to school efforts.

MEET UP: Many states celebrate National Farm to School Month with special events like apple crunches and local food days. Find out how your state is celebrating by exploring our National Farm to School Month Events Calendar. Looking to meet up with farm to school practitioners and leaders from across the country? Save the date for our 10th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference, coming to Albuquerque, NM, Apil 21-23, 2020.

BE INSPIRED: No two farm to school programs are identical, and there are countless stories about the impacts farm to school efforts have in communities across the country. Catch some farm to school inspiration by reading profiles of successful efforts on our blog.

SHARE OUT: Sharing your farm to school story is an important strategy for growing awareness and building support for the farm to school movement. Use the #F2SMonth and #farmtoschool hashtags on social media to share out how you’re celebrating farm to school this October!

Looking for more? National Farm to School Network has developed free resources and printable materials to help promote National Farm to School Month. Explore resources here:

However you dig in to farm to school, know that you are an important part of a movement that’s creating positive change for our kids, our farmers, and our communities. That’s always worth celebrating. Happy National Farm to School Month!

Kids taste testing

Melons On the Menu For Students in West Fargo Public Schools

In North Dakota, West Fargo Public Schools (WFPS) has been working with a local farmer to bring fresh produce into each of their nineteen schools over the past three school years. WFPS’s partner, Melonhead Farms, has planted items specifically for the school district based on established menus. For example, WFPS has been able to purchase watermelon and cantaloupe each fall while the melons were still in season. New for this year, WFPS began purchasing Delicata Squash to serve students. This brightly colored winter squash is unique in that it boasts a flavorful, edible, skin and requires no peeling.  Students enjoyed the roasted squash and commented on the great flavor.

WFPS has also worked to incorporate more local produce since opening their central kitchen. At this central location, they have a Robot Coupe food processor that cuts, slices and dices produce so that it is ready to use at schools. WFPS has also invested in a dedicated sink for washing, enabling the school to clean large amounts of produce efficiently prior to processing.

OCFS Announces Institute Grant Request for Applications

The Office of Community Food Systems is pleased to announce a new Regional Farm to School Institute Grant Request for Applications (RFA). This new grant focus for fiscal year 2020 will support the creation and dissemination of information on farm to school program development, and provide practitioner education and training, and ongoing school year coaching and technical assistance.

Organizations eligible for these grants are established, 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations working regionally, across three or more adjacent states or territories in one FNS region, to promote farm to school activities and support practitioners. To be considered, all applications must be submitted by 11:59 pm Eastern Time, December 27, 2019. For more information on the application process and the RFA announcement itself, please visit follow this link to The Food and Nutrition Service anticipates awarding at least two grants with a combined total of at least $150,000.

Applicants who are not eligible for a Regional Farm to School Institute Grant may apply for the FY 2020 Farm to School Grant as long as the applicant meets all eligibility criteria for a Planning, Implementation, or State Agency grant. An entity that is eligible for both grant programs must choose between submitting a Farm to School Grant or a Regional Farm to School Institute Grant. An eligible applicant can serve as the lead on only one grant application; however, applicants may be listed as a key partner on more than one application.

OCFS Webinar: “Submitting a Farm to School Grant Application” – Wednesday, October 23, 2019 at 3:00 PM Eastern Time

Per the Farm to School Grant Program Request for Applications (RFA) announcement on October 8, 2019; this presentation by the Office of Community Food Systems (OCFS) will provide an overview of the Farm to School Grant RFA announcement and the process for submitting Farm to School Grant Program applications. The OCFS team will also answer applicant questions regarding the application process and required materials. Please follow this link to register for this event.

Selling to Schools: Understanding the Fruit and Vegetable Requirements and How Schools Can Source Produce

On October 30, 2019 at 2:00 p.m. ET, United Fresh Start Foundation will host a webinar in partnership with USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service. School meal standards require schools to make available certain varieties and portions of fruits and vegetables to students at breakfast and lunch. This webinar will assist produce companies that are navigating how best to work with K-12 school customers to achieve those standards.  The webinar will address school meal portion size requirements, how produce companies can benefit from understanding the USDA Food Buying Guide, and how schools are sourcing produce for their meal programs, using the USDA Department of Defense Fresh Program (USDA DoD Fresh). Companies that distribute produce to schools, as well as grower-shippers and fresh-cut processors that are currently, or interested in, selling to K-12 schools, are encouraged to participate. All are welcome to attend, including Program operators, State agencies, and National and Regional Office staff.

Registration for this free webinar is now available, using the following registration link:



West Fargo Public Schools Melon Harvest

Melons on their way to West Fargo Public Schools