GET INVOLVED

GET INVOLVED:

 

Plan a “local” Event

 

Plant a school garden

To learn more about how to start a school garden, visit the West Virginia School Garden Toolkit; created by the West Virginia HUB, in collaboration with school gardeners around the state. 

 

Jr. Master Garden Curriculum

Developed by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, the Junior Master Gardener program is a comprehensive gardening education curriculum targeting elementary, middle, and high-school youth. The WVSU extension specialist, Melissa Stewart, is the state coordinator of JMG in West Virginia.

 

Sell Local Foods to Schools

What are the various mechanisms used by schools to purchase local foods?

  • Schools may choose to purchase produce directly from a farmer. The Food Service Director contacts a farmer (or the farmer may contact the Food Service Director) and an arrangement is made for providing local foods. In some school districts, in the spring, the Food Service Director and the farmer identify foods the school may use in the upcoming school year and agree on products to be delivered in the future.

  • Farmers may form cooperatives and work together to distribute, market, and sell their produce to schools.

  • Some schools work together through their common distributor, requesting both the names of the farms from which the distributor purchases and their local food products, whenever possible.

  • Schools may also choose to Adopt a Farmer/Farm. This type of relationship could spark opportunities within the classroom and on the farm for students to learn about where their food comes from through hands-on educational opportunities. 

 

How is delivery of local foods handled?

Delivery arrangements are unique in every situation and must be worked out between schools and farms.  Farmers may not be able to deliver to individual schools within a county, but may deliver to a central facility.  In such a case, the school nutrition director could decide how to distribute the food to the various schools.

 

Farmers may be willing to add destinations to their established delivery routes.  For example, a farmer may be able to add a delivery to a school on the same day he/she is delivering to other sites such as farmers’ markets.

 

If a school is purchasing from several local farms, the farms may be able to collaborate to have one farmer make all the deliveries. 

 

Do bidding and purchasing requirements for school meal programs discourage use of local foods?

The USDA 2002 Farm Bill includes language that encourages schools to purchase food from local producers. USDA guidance specifies that geographic preference options may only be applied to procurement of unprocessed agricultural products (only those agriculture products that retain their inherent character).

 

Buying from local farmers may exempt the school from bidding requirements because the cost may be below the required bid minimum. It is critical that you follow local county purchasing procedures as you begin with small purchases of local fresh fruit and vegetables. Requirements stated in WVBE Policy 8200, Purchasing Procedures for Local Educational Agencies must be met if purchases exceed established thresholds ( i.e., up to $2500, $2500-$5000, over $5000).

 

Are there food safety issues related to purchasing produce from local farms? To help minimize food safety risks, all farms should use safe practices in growing, harvesting, packing, handling, storing and transporting the produce. The safety of the water and fertilizer used and worker hygiene/sanitation are particularly important. Some farms have formal food safety audits such as in Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and Good Handling Practices (GHP) certifications. As long as produce is raw, whole and uncut, there is no health inspection requirement. Once cut, many fruits and vegetable are considered potentially hazardous foods. Melons and tomatoes are just two examples. 

 

If garden produce is being used in school meals, school foodservice staff should receive and inspect incoming produce with the same system used to receive all other produce. They should not use produce that is noticeably contaminated.  They should store, prepare and serve garden produce separate from other sources of produce for traceability.  Proper food safety procedures should be used for washing, preparing, and storing the produce. 

 

If you are considering buying from local farms that have not participated in formal food safety audits, visit the farm to observe and ask questions to help determine whether food safety practices are being followed. For example, ask the farmer if they have a food safety plan, and what steps are being taken to minimize contamination. If the farmer does not have a plan, have the farmer complete a self-certification checklist. You may also contact your local cooperative extension office for assistance.

Apply for Farm to School Funding

Farm to School funding is currently not available from the F2S Community Development Group.  Check back here for future opportunities.  

 

Donate

If interested in making a monetary donation through the WV Feed to Achieve initiative, please contact Richard Goff at rjgoff@access.k12.wv.us or 304-558-3396. 

 

Food Service Director’s Contact Information : Download MS Excel File 

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