Garden to Cafeteria: Using On-Site Gardens to Supply Meal Programs Webinar

February 17, 2016 - Kaitlin Koch, Jennifer Dietrich, Monica Degarmo, Abby Harper

This webinar is meant as a companion to the resource Garden to Cafeteria: A step-by-step guide, which provides a framework for sourcing products from school gardens for use in food programs. This webinar covers the steps in creating a garden to cafeteria programs and highlight stories from two practitioners in the field who are successfully using garden harvests in their procurement strategies.

This webinar was given by: 

Garden to Cafeteria: Using On-Site Gardens to Supply Meal Programs Webinar Slides

Webinar Transcript:

Abby Harper: There we go. Hi folks, this is Abby Harper, The Farm-to-School specialist at the Center for Regional Food Systems. It's 2 p.m., so we'll go ahead and get started. I just want to cover a couple of housekeeping notes before we get started with our webinar today. The call-in information is there on the screen. Please, everybody, please type *6 to mute your phones. We get a lot of feedback on these webinars if people don't mute their phones so please make sure to press *6 to mute. We'll have some time for questions at the end, but if you have questions as the webinar goes along, you can feel free to type them into the chat box on the lower right corner of your screen, and if they are relevant at the moment, maybe our speakers will present them, but we'll be sure to back to them at the end of the webinar, and lastly, you heard that buzz at the beginning. That meant this webinar is being recorded. Just so everybody is made aware of that. It will be made available afterward on our website, and you will be able to access it afterwards. So with that in mind, I'm going to pass it off to Katelyn Cook from MSU Extension, who will be leaving our webinar today. So take it away, Katelyn.

Kaitlin Wojciak: Thank you, Abby. How is my sound? Could I get a quick note in the chat box from folks if you can hear me or one person at least? I see some typing so that's a good sign. Okay, good, well, welcome, everybody. Thank you for joining us today. As you can tell, we will be talking about garden-to-cafeteria, and I'm just going to give a quick introduction of myself and then pass it along to my co-presenters to introduce themselves. So my name is Kaitlin Wojciak, and I work for MSU Extension. I'm based in Southeast Michigan, and one of my areas of work is farm to institution. So part of that work is what led me to this topic of garden-to-cafeteria, and I helped to co-author a guide on this topic with lots of assistance from people throughout the state, many school examples that helps to inform some, I don't know if I'll say best practices, but definitely good practices in the way that folks are already doing this work, and we tried to be representative for work that is already happening. So we'll draw on some of that wisdom today, and this webinar will be framed by that guide, and I'll introduce it a bit more, but before I do that, I'd like to have the folks who are going to be co-presenting with me introduce themselves. I feel very lucky to be co-presenting with two representatives of school districts that are already doing this work quite well throughout the state, and I think I will pass it off to Jennifer to introduce herself and tell you a bit about her program before we get started. 

Jennifer Dietrich: Hello, I'm Jennifer Dietrich, and as you can see I'm from West Michigan Academy of Environmental Science in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and I am a school nutrition director at a charter school. We are a pre-K-12 charter school, and our focus is quite heavily on environmental science and Gardens, using our gardens to supplement our school nutrition program. Super excited to be here today, and then, I will pass it on to Monica. 

Monica Degarmo: Hi everyone, my name is Monica Degarmo. I'm with the Detroit School Garden Collaborative, and we are a farm-to-fork program operated through the Detroit Public Schools Office of School Nutrition. So we're also very excited and grateful to be here with you all. In a nutshell, we have kind of two components of our program, which we'll dive into later, but we have a school garden program. We have 78 gardens that we provide services and support to, and then we additionally operate a 3-acre farm at one of our Detroit Public Schools at Drew Transition Center. 

Kaitlin Wojciak: Wonderful. Well, thank you for introducing yourself, ladies. So what we're going to do, sort the way this webinar will be framed is, as I mentioned, through the Garden-to-cafeteria Guide. So this guide, I'll say a little bit more about it to give you some context. This guide is one of many step-by-step guides that are published by the MSU Center for Regional Food Systems, and they sit within sort of a toolbox to assist on schools with advancing their Farm to school efforts. So this is just one component of that, and it's very much intended to focus on the element of school gardens of sourcing produce grown in school gardens and serving it in school food programs. So school gardens have a very rich list of resources onto themselves, and especially for the educational component that often goes with school gardens, this guide is not necessarily intended to address that, since there are many, many good resources out there that already exist on that topic. This really focuses in on that growing with the intention of serving some of your produce in your school programs, and how to do that, the components of it. So I just wanted to highlight that in case you felt like it could be, you know, resource for education. There are a few tidbits in there, but it's really not the focus of it.

So what we'll do today in relation to the guide is not walk through it in detail, but will use it as sort of a frame for what we'll talk about, and I'd like to try and draw out some of the higher-level themes in the guide and highlight some of the really practical and applicable steps for folks that already have school garden-to-cafeteria programs or are thinking of starting one, and what we'll do with both Jennifer and Monica on the webinar and call is they'll be sharing some of their experiences to really bring the steps to life of the guide. So I think I'll be sharing some of the themes, and then they'll be sharing some of the examples of their experience, and I guess one note before we begin diving into the guide is just that I'd like to say that there's many different motivations for having school gardens. So, you know, your personal connection with the way you would have a garden-to-cafeteria program, much like having a school garden, is going to be dependent on your motivation and objectives and having those, and to be a bit more concrete, I think there's sort of a spectrum from all of the folks that I've talked with in the development of this guide that range from more educationally focused to more production focused, and I've been thinking of that on sort of a spectrum of, you know, one and being more educationally focused and the other end being more production focused, and there's lots of ground in between those things. It's not an either/or way of being with your program, but most programs tend to have slant or the other, and some folks can occupy that middle space pretty nicely, but what that means is that your part in the cafeteria program would look different, depending on which slant your program had or your school garden had. So, for instance, if you are more educationally focused, you know, your goal likely would not be to source, you know, a certain percentage of your school's food produce purchases from your garden. It might be more based in the goals of helping students to realize some of the, you know, agricultural opportunities for careers that might be available to them in the future, or, you know, learning some business skills or something like that, and then on the other hand, if you were more production focused, you might have a goal like that of, say, sourcing 5% of your produce budget from your school garden. That's an arbitrary number, by the way. I don't have a good idea of what a reasonable percentage would be, but just to frame the rest of our conversation around that, that if you're clear on what your goals for your garden and your garden-to-cafeteria program are, it will help inform the actions that you take. Either start a garden-to-cafeteria program or, you know, expand one that you might already have. I'm going to move on then, and the way that the guide is framed in steps. So the first step we're going to spend quite a bit of time on, because there's a lot of content to it. So one of the first things that you'll find in the guide is this Garden-to-Cafeteria Assessment, and what it will do, I don't anticipate that you'll be able to read the little screenshot on the side. It's more of a visual reference for you. What the assessment will help you to do is to figure out what your assets are within your school context that relate to your garden-to-cafeteria program, and just along with the second point here, sort of help you to figure out what the pieces that you might want to consider in holding your garden-to-cafeteria program are. So figuring out what that landscape is and what assets you already have to work with. So it takes the shape of the survey, and it'll just help you to think through, again, the components that already exist in your school, maybe some specific circumstances that you might be working with, and what your goals are in starting or expanding your garden-to-cafeteria program, and to help make this a little bit more tangible, Monica is going to share an example of a process that their program went through to begin.

 Read the full Garden to Cafeteria: Using On-Site Gardens to Supply Meal Programs Webinar Transcript 


Accessibility Questions:

For questions about accessibility and/or if you need additional accommodations for a specific document, please send an email to ANR Communications & Marketing at