New resource to ramp up your farm to child nutrition program

A short, action-oriented resource can help child nutrition programs incorporate more local food and education.

When it comes to starting a local food initiative for your child nutrition program, it can be difficult to know where to begin. Examples of these programs have received national attention and traction, and there are a multitude of resources to assist you with getting started, expanding and addressing challenges along the way.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently released another resource to assist child nutrition programs in planning a farm to school, early care or summer program. The resource is entitled Farm to Child Nutrition Programs Planning Guide, and can be found at this link. This resource is intended to accompany USDA’s Farm to School Planning Toolkit and offers a succinct and action oriented approach to putting the necessary pieces in place to launch or expand a farm to child nutrition program.

This four-page guide walks you through the following components, by asking you and your collaborators to consider key questions aimed to assist with building your program around these elements:

  • Building your team
  • Establishing a vision
  • Defining local
  • Buying local foods
  • School gardening
  • Promoting and marketing your program
  • Evaluating your efforts

Lastly, the tool has a worksheet for you and your team to document your findings to the questions and set goals in specific areas. This is a helpful way to translate your research, reflection and specific needs of your child nutrition program into a plan for incorporating more local elements into your school, early care or summer program.

While this concise and easy-to-use tool is a great beginning point to examine a future or expanded farm to child nutrition program, there are a number of other resources specific to Michigan worth mentioning, if you want more information and tools to grow your program or answer questions.

Michigan Farm to School is a program dedicated to sharing ideas, tools and resources to support a range of efforts to serve local foods in school and early childcare and education food programs. Join the Michigan Farm to School Email List by following the link and filling in your information to “link to local food”.

Cultivate Michigan is a local purchasing campaign, under the umbrella of the Michigan Farm to Institution Network, working towards the goal of all institutions sourcing 20 percent of its food from within the state by the year 2020. Cultivate Michigan offers promotional materials for seasonal featured foods, local food educational events for food purchasers and a platform for tracking local purchases to record your institutions progress towards the 20 percent goal.

Making Michigan Recipes Work is a collection of resources for institutional food service professionals to learn handling and culinary skills specific to fresh, Michigan produce.

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