Every lunchroom achieves Farm to School efforts in various ways. This is dependent upon many factors within your school. Steps towards progress can be made by sourcing more local foods, updating signage or advertising in your cafeteria to feature fresh and local foods, farmer visits, food sampling, and so on. Overall, our goal is to see how we can support your school to incorporate these Farm to School initiatives into your cafeteria.

Our cafeteria resources (under Menu Planning Resouces, Marketing and Evaluation Tools, and Local Partners and Providers) contains cafeteria evaluation guides, menu planning tools, marketing materials, Harvest of the Month guide, 10 Cents a Meal program information, and local suppliers in Michigan that can help cafeterias to source local and fresh foods.

Evaluating your lunchroom can be accomplished in a number of ways. One of the best nationally used tools is the Smarter Lunchrooms Scorecard from the national Smarter Lunchrooms Movement. Thousands of schools across the country use this scorecard to measure improvements in the school nutrition environment. The scorecard also helps to implement 60 easy low-cost or no-cost evidence-based strategies, making the healthier choice the easiest choice. More information on the Smarter Lunchrooms Scorecard can be found here.

What is your communities definition of local? There are many factors when it comes to procuring food locally. Defining exactly what local means to your school, can help to pinpoint your best options. This resource from Michigan State University’s Center for Regional Food Systems presents information from the “Sourcing Local Foods: Understanding Procurement Rules and Regulations” webinar.

These are some points to think about when defining “local” for your school…

  • Your geographic location
  • Climate and seasonality
  • Size, quantity, and growing practices of farms in your area
  • What are other definitions of ‘local’ used by other organizations in your area or state?
  • Does your state have a legislated or recommended definition?
  • How many different farmers do you have in your area?
  • Consider location of food products like bread and bagels that may be made locally too