For Districts: School Nutrition & Local Food

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Farm to school enriches the connection communities have with fresh, healthy food and local food producers by changing food purchasing and education practices throughout the school, and early care and education sites.

Students gain access to healthy, local foods as well as education opportunities such as school gardens, cooking lessons and farm field trips. Farm to school empowers children and their families to make informed food choices while strengthening the local economy and contributing to vibrant communities.

Farm to school implementation differs by location, but always includes one or more of the following: 

  • School Food Procurement: Local foods are purchased, promoted and served in the cafeteria or as a snack or taste-test; 
  • Education: Students participate in education activities related to agriculture, food, health or nutrition; and 
  • School gardens: Students engage in hands-on learning through gardening, serving school garden produce in the cafeteria, and more.

From the National Farm to School Network

School food is so much more than just food on a tray. When we talk about school food we are touching on agriculture and economic development, public health and equity, community building and cooperation around achieving shared goals.  We are educating a generation of eaters and gardeners (farmers and food professionals, too), and we are providing these young people with tools and resources to feed and educate themselves and their communities.

How farm to school works your cafeteria can look many ways, but here's a few ways school nutrition services can work with local farmers:

  • Identify menu items that you would like to transition to Washington grown products. 
  • Find a farmer or distributor to connect you to Washington grown items. 
  • Highlight Washington grown products already on your menu, or new local ingredients
  • Plan a local meal event. 
  • Determine training needs to assist food service staff with incorporating farm fresh items in meals. 
  • Bring a chef into the classroom. 
  • Plan a farm field trip or host a tasting event featuring local produce.
  • Serve foods from your school garden or other community sources.

The USDA Pilot Program for Unprocessed Fruits and Vegetables is one way to increase local purchasing in your school district. Visit the USDA website or read more about the pilot program in Washington here.  

OSPI Child Nutrition Services
Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) Child Nutrition Services (CNS) assists school districts and other program sponsors in providing quality nutrition programs that promote life-long healthful living while providing nutritious meals each day that prepare children for learning. Locally grown fresh fruits, vegetables and other farm-raised products can be a delicious and nutritious component of school food. We work together with CNS on ways to integrate more Washington produced products into school meals and snack programs.

Cover of the NW WA F2S Guide

Northwest Washington - The Northwest Regional Farm to School Guide from Whatcom Farm to School is loaded with valuable information for schools in Island, San Juan, Skagit, and Whatcom counties that are making farm to school work. This guide is for parents, teachers, administrators, food service staff, school board members, and community organizations.





Cover of the Central WA F2S GuideCentral Washington - The Central WA Regional Farm to School Guide is loaded with valuable information for schools in Chelan, Grant, Kittitas, and Okanogan counties that are making farm to school work. This guide is for parents, teachers, administrators, food service staff, school board members, and community organizations. It will help you connect with others who are committed to the same vision – the health of our kids and our communities.