Farm to School is a program to encourage K-12 schools and early childcare facilities to source food from local producers as much as possible. Local foods usually are higher in nutrients because nutritional loss due to shipping is lessened. For the same reason, they may be of higher quality as well. Purchasing from local sources usually keeps the money circulating in the local economy. Opportunities for education, like field trips and presentations with the local producers, make a stronger connection for children between the food they eat and the land it was grown on.
We use "Farm to Child Nutrition" to encompass all information, resources, training, and organizations available to every school, early childcare facility (like daycares or pre-schools), and community to develop successful programs. Every school district, early childcare facility, and community is unique, as are their needs for Farm to Child Nutrition. Please use these resources to help guide your program to success.
- DPI and NDDA partnered to develop this toolkit for North Dakota School Nutrition Programs. This toolkit incorporates resources and ideas to bring a successful farm-to-school program to your district.
- This NDSU Agriculture and Extension document focuses on local food purchasing and selling with guidance from the North Dakota Department of Health and the North Dakota Department of Agriculture. This quick guide is helpful for questions about guidelines and restrictions regarding local food procurement.
- NDDA has resources available to support local food initiatives. This website includes the Online Local Food Directory map to view local producers in your area for procurement.
- Farmers' markets are a great way to source local foods. NDFMGA is a marketing organization that exists to help promote North Dakota-grown, produced, and processed products. Their website includes a link to a directory and maps to find your nearest source for local foods.
- The Farm to School Planning Toolkit guides you through helpful resources to reference when starting or growing a farm-to-school program. It is designed for schools, school districts, and community partners. The toolkit is filled with tips and examples, insights from others, and resources for further research. The toolkit is over 50 pages. The website also showcases sections you can search without downloading the whole toolkit, like "Menu Planning."
- The Patrick Leahy Farm to School Program helps child nutrition program operators incorporate local foods in the National School Lunch Program, the Summer Food Service Program, Child and Adult Care Food Program, and all associated programs.
- The resources on this page will help ensure child nutrition program operators have the necessary resources and knowledge to incorporate local foods into their daily operations. While many of the resources featured here were developed with K-12 schools in mind, much of the information is equally relevant to early childcare institutions, facilities, and summer feeding sites.
- School kitchens must use proper procurement practices for all food, but they can give extra points when awarding contracts for local food items. Please see the information above for information on ways to properly procure local foods.
Webinars, Training, and More Resources
Many organizations and agencies have opportunities to expand Farm to Child Nutrition education. This section will include webinars, training, and resources available to help make your program successful.
- Foundation for Agricultural and Rural Resources Management and Sustainability (FARRMS) is an organization that strengthens local food systems in North Dakota and the Red River Valley. In 2022, FARRMS developed a two-part webinar series titled "Local Food for Local Children." The webinar focuses on information that schools, early childcare facilities, communities, and producers can use to make a successful farm-to-child nutrition program. It has panelists and topics centered around North Dakota, including presentations from Bismarck Public Schools, FARRMS, DPI, and NDDA.