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Showing posts from March, 2012

So Fresh, So Easy Online Training

So Fresh, So Easy online training is a series of five training sessions designed for foodservice professionals. This series is an overview of the components of farm to school and illustrates how easy it is to implement. In less than two hours, you will have numerous resources, contacts, and ideas to begin or enhance your farm to school practices.

The five video segments can be viewed in any order and vary in length from 10-20 minutes each. If you complete all five video segments, you can receive 1.5 CEUs.
1. Why Farm to School? This video segment provides an overview of farm to school: the benefits and the basics on how to get started. This video segment covers talking points and provides many resources, including people, you can connect with to answer questions. Presentation (2.8 MB PDF) | Resources (307 K PDF) 2. Sourcing Your Farm to School Items This video segment addresses legal and food safety issues and provides an overview of the many ways healthy, local foods can be sourced into…

FFVP Education and Outreach

Thank you for connecting your school with Minnesota farmers who grow fresh fruits and vegetables. This section provides tools and resources to help educate students, their families, and school staff about the nutritional benefits and availability of Minnesota-grown produce through USDA’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program.

FFVP Fact Sheets

The Making the Connections for Minnesota-Grown Fresh Fruits and Vegetables pilot project worked with three Minnesota School Districts and their suppliers to increase the purchase of local fresh fruits and vegetables in the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) and to educate students and their families about the benefits of Minnesota grown produce. In this blog post, four fact sheets will help your school or farm connect Farm to School with the FFVP.
An Overview of the USDA Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program for Minnesota Schools and Farmers (591 K PDF)Connecting Farm to School and the USDA Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program: A Farmer’s Guide (1.2 MB PDF)Best Practices and Themes from Produce Suppliers (1.3 MB PDF)Best Practices and Themes from Foodservice Directors (1.5 MB PDF)

Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program

The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) is administered by the Food and Nutrition Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture to introduce children to a wide variety of fresh produce. With help from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Block Grant program, Minnesota grown foods are making their way into schools that participate in the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program. Find out more about how your school can highlight fresh local foods with FFVP.

Education and Outreach
Educate students, their families, and school staff about the nutritional benefits and availability of Minnesota grown produce.

Fact Sheets
Tips for schools and produce suppliers to serve local produce as part of the FFVP.

Learn how Minnesota schools, farmers and distributors are working together to make Farm to School a success.

Building Farm to School Foods Into Your Menu

Looking for a planning tool to incorporate farm to school foods into your menu? The Farm to School timeline and planning tool includes an action plan, product planning chart, sample budget and more!
Improving National Standards for School Meal

Improving National Standards for School Meal
Millions of school children will get more fruits, vegetables and whole grains and less fat and sodium in their lunches under new U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) standards announced in January 2012. They are the first major changes to school lunches in 15 years.

Great Trays® helps Minnesota schools identify cost savings on healthier foods and provides tools and training to plan kid-tested menus that meet new nutrition recommendations.

HealthierUS School Challenge (HUSSC) is a voluntary initiative established in 2004 to recognize those schools participating in the National School Lunch Program that have created healthier school environments through promotion of nutrition and physical activity. In Febru…

Farm to School: Finding Local Foods

There is generally no wrong way to source local foods. Depending on your needs, you may:
Purchase locally from a distributor.Locate and purchase directly from a farmer.Use school garden produce.Purchase at a farmers market.Use a “forager.” This is someone who works with the farmer and foodservice staff to make sure everyone’s needs are met.Enter into a “growing contract” with a farmer. The Land Stewardship Project developed a tool that contains questions to help school foodservice and others prioritize who you buy from and how: Things to Consider as you BUY LOCAL!

The 2012 change in nutrition standards for school food provides an increase in the amount of produce served to students, and diversifies the array of products. Use this fact sheet to communicate with your regional growers: Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act: What Farmers Should Know (512 K PDF).

Farm to School: Sourcing Seasonal Food

By Stephanie Heim, Minnesota State Lead You can find local foods for you farm to school program in Minnesota all year long. It just takes some creativity, help from farmers and distributors, and knowledge of the types of products available in each season.

Farm to School: Getting Started: Meet the Challenges

By Stephanie Heim, Minnesota State Lead According to the March 2011 Farm to School Survey conducted by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy in partnership with the Minnesota School Nutrition Association, four big challenges exist for those starting farm to school initiatives.

Farm to School: Getting Started: Get Staff on Board

By Stephanie Heim, Minnesota State Lead
Any type of change requires extra effort within the school. Advance planning is important to make it easier for everyone involved to feel comfortable and support the farm to school initiative. It is not possible to over-communicate! By educating and involving others, you can create excitement about the farm to school foods being offered in the cafeteria. Teachers are needed to ensure that students are provided the opportunity to learn more about the food they are eating, where it comes from and how to improve their choices. You may need to help teachers find educational resources that would be useful. In addition, foodservice staff may need more information or skills to be successful. Perhaps training on knife skills or more information about the products they are receiving would be helpful.

Farm to School: Getting Started: Do Your Homework

Set yourself up for success by reviewing the resources on this page and learning what other schools in Minnesota are doing. Farm to School Assessment Tool— Minnesota Department of Health — Is your farm to school initiative starting up, cruising, or breaking barriers? Take this self-assessment to find out. Food Education Every Day — Vermont FEED — Watch this excellent introductory video from the Vermont farm to school initiative. Minnesota Moments Food and Nutrition Director of Dover-Eyota Public Schools Carrie Frank says, “Find inspiration, dream big and keep asking questions.” Carrie credits Annette Derouin, foodservice director of Willmar Public Schools, for her pioneering and inspirational role in Minnesota’s farm to school movement. Barb Mechura, Director of Operations for the Royal Cuisine department of Hopkins Public Schools, finds no need to re-invent the wheel. Barb does her research and adapts tools to suit her district’s needs. To learn what other schools in Minnesota are doi…

Farm to School: Getting Started: Determine Your Goals

By Stephanie Heim, Minnesota State Lead Farm to school happens in the cafeteria, classroom, and community. As you set goals, think about how to include all three components. To be successful in reaching your goals, keep them simple and develop a step-by-step plan to achieve them.

Farm to School: Getting Started

New to farm to school practices? You're in the right place! The resources below outline what you need to consider as you develop your unique farm to school initiative. And remember: Many people throughout the state have expertise in farm to school: Resource List [not currently available].
Do Your Homework Quick self-assessment to help your program succeed. Determine Your Goals Start slow and develop a plan. Assemble a Team Build a farm to school team for lasting change. Get Staff on Board From the start, engage staff and ask for feedback. Meet the Challenges Learn how other schools have overcome challenges. "The strongest farm to school programs start small and grow like pumpkin plants, extending vines in many directions and producing fruit that slowly ripens! If you're inspired to plant the seeds of a farm to school program, start with a manageable project and have fun." — Community Alliance with Family Farmers

Farm to School: Education and Outreach

By Stephanie Heim, Minnesota State Lead

Minnesota schools are doing some amazing things to engage their students and the community in farm to school activities. Below is just a sampling from schools across the state. If you have an educational or outreach activity that you’d like to share, please send an email to

Pine Point School
Pine Point School students, in conjunction with the 21st century after-school program, are learning about local food systems. They have taken trips to visit a wild rice mill, apple orchard, and a heritage turkey farm, learning about where each of these foods comes from and talking with the growers. The fourth grade class spent a week focusing on mandaamin (corn). In the classroom, they wrote haiku poems and learned about seasonal food. Outside the classroom, they went to help harvest native Bear Island Flint corn and learn its significance for Ojibwe people. Students were later taught how to braid the corn to properly dry …

Farm to School: Taste Testing

Stephanie Heim, Minnesota State Lead

Red Lake, St. Cloud, Wadena Deer Creek, Willmar, Little Falls, Morris and other schools have found great success with tasting events. Taste tests encourage students to use all of their senses to explore fruits, vegetables, and other farm to school foods.

Morris Area Schools has offered apple and wild rice tastings among others. Students tasted two different apples — Harral Red and Sweet 16. Staff found two-thirds of the students picked the sweeter, Sweet 16 apple as their favorite.

Red Lake partnered with an educator from Extension to lead tasting lessons as part of the USDA Fresh Fruit and Vegetable program. Tasting lessons were popular among students and staff alike. Below is feedback Willie Larson and Josh Hovde, school nutrition coordinators, received from a Red Lake teacher.
“The kids loved the green beans today. We did a mini-lesson and I admit I was eating a bean while I gave the lesson. The kids could hear the crunch of the bean…