A Guide for Using Local Food in Schools

This guide is designed to help schools, and particularly food service, reconnect with local food systems through their school food programs. Known as the “Farm to Cafeteria” or “Farm to School” movement, this nationwide trend in school food purchasing is directly changing the way children eat at school while supporting and strengthening local agriculture. Vermont FEED is proud to be part of this movement. This manual is intended for school food service directors, managers, and staff who are interested in making — or are already making — changes to the food students eat at school. This manual can also be used by farmers, teachers, school administrators, and parents as a resource for farm to school projects.

Farm to School is a strategy for improving school food systems. School food systems entail more than the food being served in the cafeteria by the school food service. It includes food sold through vending, school stores, fundraisers, and food provided for school celebrations. This manual will deal primarily with the school food program and will show how it is an integral part of the school.
Every school, every school food service, is unique and, therefore, the application and relevancy of the information in this guide will vary from school to school. Our intent is to present aspects of local purchasing and stories of successful implementation and challenges to get you started on your own path to reconnecting your school food to your local food system.
In many schools in the United States, students spend very little time in the cafeteria. It is a place where students eat quickly so that they can return to the classroom, where the “learning” happens. But we at Vermont FEED believe that the cafeteria is also a place of learning and discovery, an undervalued and underutilized resource for schools and communities where children can learn to eat well and enjoy nutritious food. The cafeteria can be the heart of a school. May this manual help you make it happen.

You can download this file for free by clicking 'Download' below, or you can purchase a hard copy online at the Shelburne Farms store here.

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