Originally written by Jennifer Folliard, former SDSU Extension Family & Community Health Field Specialist.
One of the first steps to take when starting with farm to school is developing your farm to school team. Putting together a farm to school team should include a core group of individuals and agencies who are dedicated to the farm to school mission. Being able to continue the work with farm to school can be challenging that is why it is important to have input from team members across multiple sectors. There are many parties that have interest in implementing farm to school such as school employees, local chefs, PTA/PTO representatives and National Farm to School Network Partners just to name a few.
Potential Farm to School Team Members
- School food service employees
- School administrators
- School board members
- Food producers
- School nurses
- Staff at non-profits
- Master gardeners
- School maintenance staff
- Local chefs
- State agency farm to school coordinators
- National farm to school network partners
- Health care professionals
- Extension agents
- PTA/PTO representatives
- Members of the local media
- School district communications director
- School district curriculum director
- Other school districts with established programs
- Social media groups
Source: USDA FNS Building Your Farm to School Team
Taking a look at the cost when building your farm to school team can be a daunting task. However, there are options to help make farm to school more affordable. Here are some examples of options that your school can look into when starting with farm to school.
- Supporting Farm to School with Non-Profit Hospital Community Benefit Dollars: This is an opportunity to create a partnership with local hospitals to look at what resources they can offer us, what we can give to them, and how you can work together to offer farm to school in our areas.
- Farm Credit Services of America: Working Here Fund: The Working Here Fund provides two grant options.
- The short-term grant project provides up to $2,000 in grant funds is available for projects that address short-term goals, and could include projects such as, but not limited to, community gardens, 4-H and FFA chapter projects, foodbank needs, backpack summer programs, grain bin rescue equipment, CASE curricula, and drone technology for the classroom.
- The Long-term grants of up to $10,000 each are available for larger community projects focused in smaller rural communities (population 5,000 or less). This includes projects such as, but not limited to, start-up FFA chapters, campaigns for a new fire hall or community building, geodesic domes, larger community greenhouses or high tunnels, or other capital campaign fundraising for community projects. A documented long-term plan is required in the application process for this grant.