Life Lab

Life Lab cultivates children's love of learning, healthy food, and nature through garden-based education.

Policy and Protocols for School Gardens and Garden to Cafeteria

Serving School Garden Grown Produce in the Cafeteria – Sample Policy and Protocols
Safe Produce Handling Resources
Sample Wellness Policy Language to Support School Gardens and Local Foods
Garden to Cafeteria in Action – Videos

Starting a school garden-to-cafeteria program involves additional coordination, effort and logistics. Implementation can be simple or complex depending on the size and scope of the school garden-to-cafeteria program (which could range from including greens or tomatoes in a salad bar in a single school to integrating produce into a lunch menu used district wide). If the school district contracts with a management company or other vendor to supply school lunches, an adjustment to the contract may be necessary.

From a legal standpoint, however, there are no federal impediments. There is no provision in the National School Lunch Program or other federal law that prevents school cafeterias from using school garden produce. In fact, you might be surprised to know that there are two USDA Bulletins that state federal school food service funds can be used to purchase edible school gardening supplies. See:

You might also be interested in Legal Issues Impacting Schoolyard Gardens presentation given at the 2013 Minnesota SchoolYard Garden Conference by Mary Marrow from the Public Health Law Center at William Mitchell College of Law.


Serving School Garden Grown Produce in the Cafeteria – Sample Policy and Protocols

Below are examples of policy that have been created and adopted by various districts and states that provide protocol for harvesting, handling and serving garden grow produce. Also listed are general resources for school garden management and produce handling.

CDE School Garden Management Bulletin created for School Nutrition Departments, responds to frequently asked questions regarding school gardens and using/purchasing produce from them. This document was referenced from a National USDA Memo.

USDA’s Farm to School SCHOOL GARDENS Using Gardens to Grow Healthy Habits in Cafeterias, Classrooms and Communities a four page guide.

Eat What You Grow! A School Garden Food Safety Manual for Chicago Public Schools created by FamilyFarmed.org is a 72 page comprehensive guide with step-by-step instructions, and record keeping templates and well developed appendices to allow school garden operators to make sure their produce meets high food safety standards.

Oregon Department of Education School Garden Food Safety Training & Documentation Manual Downloadable guides, checklists and posters to enable you to serve food from your school garden safely.

Ventura USD Healthy Schools Program Guide to Serving Garden food in Cafeteria for Ventura Unified
Ventura USD Healthy Garden Pledge guidelines on maintaining a healthy garden site

Santa Barbara County Requirements for School-Based Garden/Farm-to-Cafeteria Programs has been approved by Santa Barbara County Public Health Department and the Santa Barbara County Agricultural Commissioner’s Office as a guideline for local school garden requirements.

Denver Public Schools Garden to Cafeteria Protocol is a nice example of a district wide direction to assure safe handling of garden grown produce.
Denver Public School Garden Manual is a nice example of resources to district wide policy to support the the inclusion of school garden produce in the cafeteria.

San Diego Unified Garden to Cafe Program Protocol
Garden to Café allows school gardens to serve fresh garden grown foods as part of the school meal program. View their full program outline and documents.

Garden to Cafeteria: A Step-by-Step Guide created by the Center for Regional Food Systems and Michigan State University

Alaska School Garden Food Safety Guidelines nice example of guidelines for maintaining a healthy edible garden program. Nice image of easy to create garden hand-washing station.

Best Practices for Hawaii School Gardens – Comprehensive details about pesticides, safety, tips for setting up a seller display of produce. Provides a summary of Good Agricultural Practices tips.

Nevada Department of Agricultures Farm to School Food Safety Program resources include school garden food safety guidelines, useful resources, and sample forms for running a garden program.

Food Safety in the School Garden from the University of Maryland.

Santa Monica / Malibu Unified School District School Garden Food Safety Checklist and School Garden Produce Donation and Selling Protocol

Sodexo School Garden Safety Protocol and School Garden Weekly Checklist

The NASBE State School Health Policy Database is a comprehensive set of laws and policies from 50 states on more than 40 school health topics. This database is intended to facilitate the sharing of school health improvement strategies and policy language across states.

Slow Food USA has a great chapter on Policy for School Gardens. It outlines the different levels of policy that can be used to support garden programs.

Safety in the Garden handout from the CDE School Garden Resource Packet

Seriving School Garden Produce in the Cafeteria from Change Lab Solutions


General Safe Produce Handling Resources

Best Practices for Using Garden Produce in Cafeteria a simple two page document from the National Farm to School website. Download

A Handbook for Beginning + Veteran Garden Organizers: How to Reduce Food Safety Risks A 15 page guide from North Carolina State University and North Carolina Cooperative Extension.

California’s Farm to Fork How to Safely Handle Fresh Produce from Farm to Fork a 22 page guide

Sonoma County created The Approved Produce Gardener Certificate Program, a protocol tool that shows how to implement garden management safety.

Safe Handling of Fruits and Vegetables Brochure
http://wifss.ucdavis.edu/outreach.php

Food Safety Tips From Your Edible Home Garden Brochure http://wifss.ucdavis.edu/outreach.php National Food Service Management Institute’s School Produce Safety Fact Sheets and Videos

Applying Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) to Farm-to-School and School Gardens. Webinar content from the School Nutrition Association
www.schoolnutrition.org/schoolgardens

Public Health Law and Policy’s Site Lists sample school board resolution to support farm to school. It also includes very detailed documentation related to policy on Serving School Garden Grown Produce to Students.

Iowa State’s Online School Garden School Food Safety Training includes videos, quizzes, worksheets for students, and a comprehensive On Farm Food Safety Manual: School Garden.

School Garden Food Safety comprehensive resources and online training from the University of Arizona.

Looking for more Food Safety Lessons and Resources for Instructing Kids?

 


Sample Wellness Policy Language to Support School Gardens and Local Foods

Let’s Go Local: Recommendations for Linking Locally Grown Food, School Gardens, and Joint-Use Agreements to School Wellness Policies View


Garden to Cafeteria in Action

Judy Honerkamp and Lunch Lady Amy share how they include garden grown food in school lunch.

 

Ft. Bragg Food Service Director and Food Service Staff talk about using garden produce in school lunch. See the 5:50 mark to jump to the conversation.

 

For over 30 years Pacific Elementary School has had a strong garden to cafeteria connection. This small school campus food service is ran by students!

follow us on Facebook

Have you heard?! Life Lab is one of New Leaf Community Markets' recipients of their EnviroToken program for their Westside Santa Cruz store! So get your shopping on, bring your reusable bags, and donate 10¢ to Life Lab with every bag you use! Thank you, New Leaf!
#thankyou, #grateful, #ReduceReuseRecycle, #isupportlifelab
... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

We are so grateful to be starting 2018 with such strong support! Because of so many generous gifts from our supporters like you, we surpassed our 2017 fundraising goal of $124,000, with all campaign donations totaling $125,835.

These funds will help make Life Lab field trip and summer camp programs possible for children from families and schools that could otherwise not afford them. We believe that ALL children deserve the chance to love learning, healthy food, and nature. Thanks to your support, this year we will serve even more children in Santa Cruz County and across the nation.

THANK YOU!

#beapartofit, #startingstrong, #changinglives, #isupportlifelab
... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

Happy almost 2018, Life Lab fans! We are only $809 dollars away from reaching our $124,000 year-end fundraising goal! Before you ring in the new year, will you help us ensure a promising 2018? 100% of the funds necessary to do this important work come from grants and from individuals like you. Will you join us in ensuring that we can continue to deepen and expand our reach, so that even more children can experience the joy of loving learning, healthy food, and nature? Your tax-deductible gift made by midnight tonight will go directly to supporting our programs.
www.lifelab.org/donate
#beapartofit, #changinglives, #optoutside, #gardenbasededucation, #happynewyear
... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

End the year making a life-chaning difference!
www.lifelab.org/donate
#beapartofit, #hopeforthefuture, #Happy2018!, #workingtogether
... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

#beapartofit
www.lifelab.org/donate
... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

With women and people of color still underrepresented in scientific fields, "I'm a scientist!" is a powerful statement coming from a 2nd grade girl in Watsonville. It came during a field trip to our Blooming Classroom field trip program. Young students look at flowers on living plants in the garden, see pollinators interacting with them, and pick a flower to dissect and explore its parts. Then they draw the flower and label all the parts they learned about in a lesson with our garden educators. This hands-on, garden-based science in action, and the feeling it gives students is exciting!

These ah-ha moments happen all the time at Life Lab, inspiring children's love of learning, healthy food, and nature. 100% of the funds needed to create these life-changing experiences come from grants and from individuals like you. Will you join us in ensuring that thousands of children each year can experience the joy of hands-on garden-based learning? Your tax-deductible gift will go directly to supporting our programs.

#beapartofit, #thisiswhatascientistlookslike, #creatingchange, #hopeforthefuture
www.lifelab.org/donate
... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

We all know that hands-on experiences are critical to learning. No one would dream of teaching technology without computers: in fact, in many schools today they are mandating 30 minutes of screen time per student, per day. Why on earth with this understanding are we trying to teach earth and life science without giving them exposure to earth and life? School gardens are spaces--outdoor classrooms--where students can learn science and apply math and language arts, in a context that feels relevant to them. And what might happen if we elevated the status of hands-on, experiential, outdoor learning? What might happen if schools started mandating 30 minutes of dirt time per student per day? This would be time where they could apply what they're learning in the classroom outdoors to the world around them and develop a connection to it. Well that’s what we’re here to find out!
#beapartofit, #dirttime, #getoutside, #handsonlearning,
www.lifelab.org/donate
... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

"This field trip was a fun experience that taught me how to eat healthy food in a fun way." -6th grader on a Feeling Fine with Fresh Foods Field Trip
Help grow the next generation of healthy eaters!
www.lifelab.org/donate
#beapartofit, #healthyeating, #isupportlifelab, #donate, #gardenbasededucation
... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

Watch us on Youtube

View Life Lab Channel

Life Lab has been the most innovative and relevant organization in this field. From providing the best curriculum to their cutting edge professional development, we have relied on Life Lab as our go to organization for support, ideas, and collaboration.
Rachel PringleSenior Director of ProgramsEducation Outside
Life Lab provides truly inspiring training. Their breadth of experience, joy for teaching, and commitment to sharing knowledge highlight the best practices in food and garden education.
Erica CurryTraining and Professional Development ManagerFoodCorps
Thank you for such a wonderful field trip experience! Your leaders did such a great job at keeping our kids engaged.
Sheila BrickenKindergarten TeacherSan Lorenzo Valley Elementary
Terry had another awesome two weeks at Life Lab. I think he learns more there than in any other part of his year. School is great, but he’s passionate (and often dogmatic) about what he learns there.
Tara NeierCamp ParentSummer camp mom