MSU and local schools offer Garden to Cafeteria training

School gardens are one of the three key elements of Farm to School. Learn more about how to use fresh garden produce in the school cafeteria.

Many schools throughout the state of Michigan have school gardens or hope to start one. An extension of school garden programming is using the garden produce in the cafeteria. Several garden to cafeteria practitioners claim that their students eat more produce when it is sourced from the garden. In Michigan we have a number of schools that are using the produce grown in their gardens in their food programs, and many more that are interested in learning how to incorporate their fresh produce in school meals and snacks. 

Next month, the MSU Center for Regional Food Systems is hosting an educational webinar with Michigan school partners and Michigan State University Extension about starting and maintaining garden to cafeteria programs. The webinar will walk through practical and applicable steps of the Garden to Cafeteria: A Step-by-Step Guide and feature real examples from two school programs. 

The two featured school programs are West Michigan Academy of Environmental Sciences in Grand Rapids and Detroit Public Schools. These schools will share their examples of how they organize and run their program, their challenges, lessons learned and success stories. 

Other topics covered will highlight the contents of the Garden to Cafeteria guide. The webinar will walk participants through how to get started by understanding regulations, planning for food safety, assessing the current climate for this type of program and planning what to grow. The school representatives will draw on their experience from building community connections and local resources to support their efforts. One of the most important considerations in a sustainable garden to cafeteria program is the relationship with food service. The presenters will discuss some ideas for building this relationship and some options for communication and moving your produce into the school food program. Lastly, presenters will discuss options to keep your garden to cafeteria in operation for year after year through funding and sales. 

If you, or any of your connections are interested in starting or growing your garden to cafeteria program, consider tuning in to the webinar. Details are as follows:

Date: Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2016

Time: 2-3:30 p.m.

Connect online

Call in number: 1-719-234-7800

Call in participant code: 690382

Michigan State University Extension supports garden to cafeteria efforts around the state, to encourage healthy students and abundant educational opportunities.

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