Farm to School in the Cafeteria - Building Sustainability
Lafayette Parish School System - Child Nutrition Coordinator Showing Harvest Menu and Schedules
Building Sustainability in Your Program
The sustainability of your Farm to School program depends on the relationships and protocols you build into your child nutrition and education programs, community engagement, policy changes at the school and district level, and fundraising. Following are resources and examples for sustaining your program for years to come.
What steps have you taken to begin securing the funding, equipment, materials, hands-on support, and policy change you need to sustain your Farm to School program?
Do you anticipate your needs increasing, decreasing, or staying the same over the coming years?
How will your school or district integrate Farm to School activities into normal operations?
Will Farm to School become a permanent part of the curriculum?
Will local foods become a permanent part of the school food budget?
Will Farm to School activities become a part of school/district policy?
Farm to School Wellness Policies
Farm to School programs provide creative ways to expand nutrition education and increase offerings of fresh and minimally processed foods. As your Farm to School program develops, a key part to growing and sustaining the program is ensuring that there are policies in place to support your efforts and goals.
A comprehensive wellness policy that addresses the many needs of a school or district can be written to support local purchasing and other Farm to School activities. School wellness policies are intended to be customized according to what makes the most sense for your district.
How to Integrate Farm to School into School Wellness Policies
- Find out what progress the district has made in developing, implementing or evaluating a school food or wellness policy and whether Farm to School programs have been included. One place to start is the district superintendent’s office.
- Play an active role in the conversations around school wellness policies. Most school districts have a policy in place, but implementation and evaluation varies. Become part of the group that evaluates its implementation. If there isn’t a group, help bring together the important players from the school and the community - including school administrators, food service staff, teachers, parents, students, community representatives and members of the agricultural community. These groups are sometimes called SHAC’s or school health advisory committees.
- Write Farm to School language that fits the needs and interests of your school district. Use the model language in the School Wellness Policy Resources section below for examples and explore the resources provided to build a strong case for why including or adding Farm to School language is important. Present an updated version to your school board for adoption.
- A testament of an effective policy is how well it is implemented. Develop an evaluation plan that measures the components of Farm to School programs so you can ensure the policy is being implemented as intended.
School Wellness Policy Resources
Model Language for School Wellness Policy: This is a sample language developed by the National Farm to School Network. This resource is meant to be one piece of the puzzle toward creating healthier school food environments.
Louisiana Fit Kids School Wellness: This page on the Louisiana Fit Kits side contains information and resources regarding comprehensive school wellness policies.
School Garden Wellness Policy Tool: This is a sample language to incorporate school gardens into school wellness policies.
Farm to School Fundraising
Fundraising is a valuable way to support and sustain Farm to School programs. While outside funding is not necessary to incorporate local food in the cafeteria, start a school garden or bring Farm to School into the classroom, it can help accomplish these objectives. Refer to the Farm to School Planning Timeline and Budget Tool for Food Service (Farm to School Sample Budget) in the Preparing Fresh Foods section as you begin planning for fundraising budgets.
Fundraising Strategies for Farm to School Programs
Will you seek monetary donations from parents, community members, local businesses, or others?
What are your plans for securing monetary donations?
Have you established annual goals for community fundraising?
Will you hold special events to raise funds for and awareness of your program?
Have you established annual goals for special events?
School District and PTA/PTO Fundraising
Will you seek monetary support from your school or district?
If so, where will these funds come from?
Will funds be permanent or temporary?
Will you seek grant funding to implement and sustain your Farm to School program?
What local, regional, and national funding sources have you identified?
Have you established annual goals for grants?
In-kind Donations from Community Partners
Will you seek in-kind donations of equipment, supplies, or services from local businesses, parents, community members, or others?
Have you established annual goals for in-kind donations?
What partnerships will be essential to sustaining your Farm to School program?
Will any of your partners be raising funds or carrying out important functions of the program on your behalf?
Will the involvement of partners be temporary or permanent?
Funding Farm to School: This fact sheet from the National Farm to School Network provides an overview of fundraising opportunities.
USDA Farm to School Planning Toolkit: This toolkit contains additional resources and tips for sustaining your Farm to School program.
Georgia Farm to School Budgeting Tool: This tool was adapted from the Farm to School Planning Timeline and Budget Tool for Food Service.
Photo Credit: Jason Van Haverbeke for Louisiana Seed Change