The Farm to School Program works to connect Oregon farmers, ranchers, seafood harvesters, and food processors with school cafeterias, early child care centers, and summer meal sites. This enables more Oregon agricultural products to be served in the lunch line. It also helps connect youth to food production through school gardens, field trips to farms and ranches, and grower visits to the classroom.
The Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) and the National Farm to School Network recognize the core elements of Farm to School.
- School gardens
Farm to School programs:
- serve locally grown, raised, harvested or processed foods in school cafeterias,
- improve student nutrition,
- provide agriculture, health, and nutrition education opportunities; and
- support Oregon’s agricultural economy.
ODA partners with the Oregon Department of Education to implement the Oregon Farm to School and School Garden Program.
Farm to School Producer and Processor Toolbox
The Farm to School Toolbox is designed to help producers and processors that are new to the farm to school program and need assistance understanding the school markets, food safety requirements and how to get started developing business relationships with schools.
The School Market Readiness Assessment will help you self-evaluate your business and identify steps to become ready to sell to schools under the Farm to School Program.
Successful business relationships with schools begin with school nutrition directors. This school nutrition director tip sheet provides useful information to help make your conversations with school nutrition directors productive and help you secure sales with schools.
It is important to know the food safety requirements for the products you grow, raise, harvest or process for school markets. In most cases, the requirements your business needs to meet will depend on the form (e.g., frozen, fresh, processed) and type (e.g., meat, seafood or cut vegetables).
For very small farms, schools may have their own food safety requirements and may ask to visit your farm to review your on farm food safety plan to safeguard the production, harvesting, handling, packaging and storage of the products you intend to sell to schools. The On-Farm Food Safety Plan and Checklist for Child Nutrition Programs will assist you with conversations and visits from school administrators.
Growing your school sales
There are several economic advantages to working with distributors that have school accounts. This distributor tip sheet will help you weigh the pros and cons.
Communicating with School Nutrition Directors
The school nutrition director is often responsible for making procurement decisions and are the key people to contact when selling to schools. Communicating with School Nutrition Directors
Food Safety Requirements for Oregon Producers Selling into Child Nutrition Programs
Ensure you have the proper food safety licensure to sell to schools, early childcare centers, and organizations serving summer meals in Oregon. Food safety requirements
Working with Distributors
Considerations for working with distributors as a farm to school producer. Working with Distributors
Farm to School Equipment and Infrastructure Grant Program
In 2021, ODA selected six awardees for the Farm to School Equipment and Infrastructure Grant Program. The goal of this competitive program is to help Oregon farmers, ranchers, seafood harvesters, and food processors get more of their local products into more of Oregon’s participating National School Lunch Programs, Child and Adult Care Food Programs, and approved Summer Food Service Programs.
House Bill (HB) 2579 expanded the Farm to School Grant Program to include assistance with equipment and infrastructure necessary for producers and processors to scale into school markets. Grant funds helped support farm and food business improvements such as: a new well to irrigate crops and extend the growing season; a commercial mixer to scale up production; and cold storage to improve the quality and freshness of storage crops. HB 2579 originally included $500,000 in grant funds, but due to the state’s economic downturn the grant program was reduced to $250,000.
Farm to School Producer Equipment and Infrastructure Grantees