The opportunities for serving local foods in child nutrition programs are abundant. Not only can local foods span the plate, operators can serve local foods in all types of programs:
- National School Lunch Program;
- School Breakfast Program;
- Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program;
- Summer Food Service Program and Seamless Summer Option;
- Afterschool and early childhood settings (Child and Adult Care Food Program); and
- Snack programs.
It is up to you and to define what local means for your program, and there are many options! Local for one program operator might mean within the county, while local for another might include the entire state and even adjacent states. Definitions of local can vary depending on the season, type of product and may change by program or event.
When planning how to integrate local items into meals, start by reviewing your menus to see what local foods you are already serving. Talking with suppliers and checking packaging and invoices for the city or state of origin may reveal that some menu items are already local. The next step is to determine how to feature additional local products. Here are some resources that can help you start planning and get started on incorporating local items:
- Integrating Local Foods Into Child Nutrition Programs Fact Sheet
- Decision Tree Fact Sheet
- USDA Department of Defense (DoD) Fresh Program Fact Sheet
- Procuring Local Foods Resource Page
- Farm to School Planning Toolkit
- Farm to School Grants Fact Sheet
- Farm to School Census
Please go to the Farm to School Fact Sheets Page.
For more information and to sign up for the Dirt, the e-letter from the Patrick Leahy Farm to School Program, visit www.fns.usda.gov/f2s/e-letter-archive.