Farm to School in the Cafeteria Manual - Food Safety

RSD-Knowledge is Power Program N.O. - KIPP Central City Academy Garden Club

RSD-Knowledge is Power Program N.O. - KIPP Central City Academy Garden Club

Food Safety

Food safety is a top priority for food service professionals and school meal programs. Food from a school garden or a local producer can be just as safe if not safer than food traveling hundreds of miles to get to the school cafeteria. Regardless of where your food is coming from, you want to be certain that food safety is being maximized. Explore our resources below which cover basic food safety protocols, concerns and resources.

In the Cafeteria

Food Safety In the Cafeteria

It is important at every point in the food chain that everyone from the farmer to the food service staff be proactive and responsible for serving safe food. Use the available resources to keep your food safe and reduce the risks for foodborne illnesses.

Questions to Consider:

As your Farm to School program grows, do you expect any changes in food preparation or service that will require you to develop new policies or standard operating procedures?
Do you have enough refrigerated storage to accommodate an increased volume of fresh produce?
Do food service staff members feel comfortable with their current level of knowledge regarding food safety?
Do you anticipate a need for training others regarding food safety?

In the Cafeteria - Food Safety Resources

Produce Safety University: An initiative of the USDA geared toward food service professionals, this resource focuses on safe handling practices of fresh produce for school meal programs. It includes links to videos, fact sheets, guides and take home professional development learning opportunities.
Best Practices: Handling Fresh Produce in Schools: This fact sheet, developed by the National Food Service Management Institute, provides information on how to wash, prepare, serve and store fresh produce in schools.
Washing Fruits and Vegetable Sample SOP: This document is an example of a HACCP based Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for washing fruits and vegetables, developed by the USDA and National Food Service Management Institute.
Food Safety in Salad Bars: This fact sheet provides recommendations from the USDA and the National Food Service Management Institute on how to reduce the risk of foodborne illness from salad bar or self-service lines regarding fresh produce.

School Food Safety "Questions to Consider" are adapted from the USDA Farm to School Planning Toolkit.

On the Farm

Food Safety On the Farm

Many producers follow practices on their farms that maximize food safety and there are also many ways to assess the food safety practices of the producers with whom you want to work.

Questions to Consider:

How will you make sure the producers and/or suppliers you purchase local food from are practicing food safety from the farm to your cafeteria?
Are there any food safety specifications you may incorporate into your solicitations for local food? (See How to Use a Request for Information and Using Specifications, Requirements and Evaluation Criteria to Target Local Products webinar from the USDA Finding, Buying, and Serving Local Foods Webinar Series).
What specifications or procedures do your distributor or food service management company use related to on-site food safety for producers?

On the Farm - Food Safety Resources

LSU Ag Center: Food Safety: This is a comprehensive website about on-farm food safety including fact sheets, tips and training opportunities.
Checklist for Retail Purchasing of Local Produce: This checklist, from Iowa State University, includes a detailed list of safety concerns to pay attention to and helpful questions to ask local producers.
Conversation Guide: Child Nutrition Director and Producer First Meeting: For more guidance on how to talk to local growers, read this guide.
Tips, Tools, and Guidelines for Food Distribution and Food Safety: This web page contains food safety information developed by Oklahoma Farm to School on handling fresh produce, developing a food safety plan and serving fresh food from a school garden.
Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and Good Handling Practices (GHP): Learn more about the USDA audit process for GAP and GHP on this web page.
Verifying On-Farm Food Safety: This resource helps school nutrition staff identify and discuss food safety practices on a farm.
On Farm Food Safety Information for Food Service Personnel: This guide provides a list of questions about on farm food safety practices and key points to listen for when discussing food safety practices with farmers.

School Food Safety "Questions to Consider" are adapted from the USDA Farm to School Planning Toolkit.

In the School Garden

Food Safety In the School Garden

The following questions in addition to the resources at the bottom of the page, while not inclusive, are meant to guide you in maximizing your food safety plan for your school garden and Farm to School program.

Questions to Consider:

What food safety measures will you consider when designing and maintaining your garden? (See sample School Garden Food Safety Checklist below.)
Is your school garden located away from potential sources of contamination?
Do you need to have the soil or water source tested?
Will students be involved in harvesting produce in your school garden?
Where will harvested foods be washed and/or prepared?
What types of containers will be used for harvest?
Will a potable water source be available for washing and preparing the garden produce?
How will you record what is harvested from the garden, who harvested the produce and when?

In the School Garden - Food Safety Resources

Farm to School Food Safety Monitoring Form: This food safety monitoring form, developed by Lafayette Parish School System for their Farm to School program, is an example of record keeping and monitoring for school gardens.
Food Safety in Louisiana School Gardens: This guide, published by the LSU AgCenter, was designed to provide teachers, students, parents and volunteers with an awareness of easy-to-implement good agriculture practices that will help prevent potential foodborne disease outbreaks from the school garden.
School Garden Food Safety Training and Documentation Manual: This comprehensive guide, developed by the Oregon Department of Education, is editable and meant to be a tool to enable you to follow best practices which will help you serve food from your school garden safely. It includes a variety of food safety topics, such as starting a garden, harvesting and serving garden produce, and training logs for students and adults.
School Garden Safety Checklist: This a good example, developed by OSSE, of a short school garden safety checklist that follows GAP guidelines.
School Garden Best Practices: This fact sheet is a great resource developed by the National Farm to School Network and various state partners. It provides protocols for growing and harvesting produce from school gardens to serve in school cafeterias.
Food Safety Tips for School Gardens: This detailed guide, developed by USDA and NFSMI, outlines good agricultural practices and good handling practices for schools to follow concerning school gardens.
USDA School Garden Fact Sheet: This fact sheet outlines basic steps to using school garden produce in the cafeteria and highlights food safety practices.

School Food Safety "Questions to Consider" are adapted from the USDA Farm to School Planning Toolkit.

General Food Safety Resources

Food Safety In General

Questions to Consider:

As your Farm to School program grows, what steps have you taken to ensure that you are managing food safety risks for the food you are serving to students?
Have you offered food safety materials and trainings to food service staff, teachers, maintenance staff, or students (if students are working with your program)?
Are you familiar with the food safety laws at the state and local level that might affect your Farm to School program?
Does your district or state, or do any of the retailers or other entities you work with, require that producers hold liability insurance?
If food served through your school nutrition program is recalled, do you have a system in place for tracing the produce one step back to your supplier and one step forward to when and to whom it was served?

General - Food Safety Resources

Louisiana Department of Agriculture: Learn about the various services and programs offered by the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and their role in food safety in Louisiana on this website.
Louisiana Department of Health: Learn about the Retail Food Program in Louisiana and their role in food safety as it concerns your program.
FAQs – Food Safety: In this FAQ, the USDA Food and Nutrition Service’s Office of Community Food Systems (OCFS) answers some of the most common questions concerning handling fresh produce and working with local farms.
Fight Bac!: The Partnership for Food Safety Education provides updated promotional materials and resources for student food safety education along with kindergarten through 9th grade curriculum examples for teachers on this website.
Product Liability Insurance: This is a list of resources from the USDA regarding liability insurance options for local farmers. While some resources are state specific, the content and information is helpful for school food professionals to understand in relation to working with local growers.
Food Safety with Local Meat, Eggs and Dairy: This is a compiled list of resources from the USDA regarding food safety concerns and information for local meat, eggs and dairy.
School Food and Produce Safety: Resource links, online trainings, fact sheets and more are available on this web page from the USDA.

School Food Safety "Questions to Consider" are adapted from the USDA Farm to School Planning Toolkit.

Success Stories/In the News

Farm to School Activities (listed by SFAs - School Food Authorities)

Food Service teams throughout Louisiana are working with their schools and communities to engage students in Farm to School activities. Below are highlights from schools across the state. If you have a nutritional education or outreach activity that you’d like to share, please send an email to the Louisiana Fit Kids File Drop with a link to an article or information and photos about your program.

Lafayette Parish School System
Acadiana High School Serves Local Food Grown by Students in the Cafeteria
Richland Parish School Board
Richland Parish School Board Launches Greenhouse Program to Bridge the Gap between Food and Agriculture Education and Academics