Farm Fresh Training

TDA has created several online training modules that provide training and information related to several Farm Fresh topics:

    • Farm to School online training
    • Farm to Child Care online training
    • Farm to Summer online training 
    • Defining Local Decision Tool

Check out the modules below. 

Farm Fresh Courses

Course Name Course Description
Defining Local Decision Tool USDA expressly grants the authority for entities participating in Child Nutrition Programs and purchasing local food items with federal funding to define local, as long as procurement guidelines are followed. This means that as a NSLP, CACFP, SFSP, or SSO participant you have the authority to define local. This tool will walk you through two questions that will help you identify a definition of local based on your goals.

Procurement rules must always be followed when making purchases using federal Child Nutrition funds. Free, open competition must be maintained through all procurement processes, and you must document how you are defining local for each applicable purchase. Competition cannot be restricted by a narrow definition of local. Always reach out to your local Education Service Center (ESC) with any questions.
Farm to Child Care Introduction for Child Care Centers and Day Care Homes This training is intended for child care program team members and other who are interested in bringing farm to child care activities to their center, site or day care home. Information presented during this training is introductory in nature and will lay the groundwork for future training and discussion about farm to child care activities.
Farm to School Introduction for Schools  This training is intended for school nutrition program team members and others who are interested in bringing farm to school to their districts or campuses. Information presented during this training is introductory in nature and will lay the groundwork for future training and discussions about farm to school activities.
Farm to Summer Introduction for SFSP and SSO

This training is designed for summer meal program sponsors and team members who are interested in bringing farm to summer to their sites. Information presented during this training is introductory in nature and will lay the groundwork for future training and discussion about farm to summer activities.

USDA Farm to School Webinar Series: Planning for Farm to School Success  Minimize 
Preliminary results of the USDA 2015 Farm to School Census indicate that more than 1,700 school districts nationwide don’t yet have farm to school programs, but are interested in starting one. Through this 11-part series of 30 minute webinars, USDA guide you through the USDA Farm to School Planning Toolkit. Webinars will include considerations and helpful resources to reference when starting or growing a farm to school program. Guest speakers will join the webinars to share their hands on farm to school experiences.

Intro to Farm to School: Planning and Building a Team: Jan. 14, 2016

How does a farm to school team function? Learn tips and best practices for building a farm to school team, facing struggles and surprises, and building a foundation for a successful project. Steve Merinelli, Food Service Director from Milton Town, Vermont, joins us to share his first-hand experiences.
Presentation slides

Setting Goals and Establishing an Evaluation Baseline: Jan. 28, 2016

How do you know if your activities are helping local farmers and improving student health? Learn how to integrate program planning/evaluation tools and techniques that will document outcomes and show the impacts of farm to school programs. 
Presentation slides

Finding and Buying Local Foods: Feb. 4, 2016

USDA Farm to School local food procurement guru, Christina Conell, breaks down the how to’s of finding and buying local food. We’ll cover a few procurement basics and then focus on where the opportunities are to target local products in the purchasing process. Join to gain insights on how to start making change in your process, big or small.
Presentation slides

Farm to School Menu Planning: Feb. 18, 2016

Let’s bring local products to life on your school lunch and breakfast menus! This presentation will take you through the menu planning cycle and show you the variety of ways to incorporate local products into your school recipes, salad bars, and cycle menus so they become permanent items in your kitchen inventory.
Presentation slides

Food Safety: March 3, 2016

How can we ensure the safety of farm fresh food? We’ll share local food safety best practices, including identifying safety measures for school gardens and school salad bars.
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Promoting Your Farm to School Program: March 17, 2016

You’ve put in so much hard work! Now, how do you promote your farm to school program to ensure student, school, and community engagement? Hear about programs that have successfully promoted farm to school programs while managing a tight budget.
Presentation slides

School Gardening: March 31, 2016

Hear about the different ways to incorporate school gardens into your farm to school program as well as hear how schools are successfully procuring school garden produce for their meal programs.
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Curriculum Integration: April 7, 2016

Experiential education is an important component of successful farm to school programs. This webinar will help you plan for your farm to school educational efforts and brainstorm food, agriculture, and nutrition-related educational activities with which you can engage students.
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Program Sustainability: April 28, 2016

Your farm to school project is blooming! But what will happen if funding levels decrease or community interest lags? With this webinar, plan ahead for these potential scenarios and learn about program sustainability best practices.  
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Evaluating Your Program: May 12, 2016

We all know that farm to school programs create positive economic impacts for local and regional farmers and improve the health and well-being of our nation’s children. But how can we measure these changes to document these positive impacts? Hear from seasoned farm to school evaluators to learn best practices for evaluating your farm to school efforts.
Presentation slides

Tying it All Together and Digging In: May 26, 1:00 PM

Join us for a healthy dose of motivation! Deborah Kane, Director of USDA’s Office of Community Food Systems, will hit the highlights by showing how local procurement fits into the larger farm to school picture and share several resources to help you meet your local purchasing goals.
Presentation materials coming soon.

USDA Farm to School Webinar Series: Finding, Buying and Serving Local Foods  Minimize 
Introduction to Procurement, originally recorded on Jan. 9, 2014

Christina Conell and Maggie Gosselin from USDA's Food and Nutrition Service, cover basic procurement fundamentals relevant to the Federal Child Nutrition Programs. Topics include informal and formal procurement methods and maintaining competition.
Webinar Slides
Additional Resources

Conducting a Local Procurement Baseline Assessment, originally recorded on Jan. 23, 2014

Maggie Gosselin from USDA's Food and Nutrition Service discusses ways to define local, determine what local products you are already purchasing and track local purchases in the future. This session showcases stories and tips from Page County Public Schools in Virginia and Oakland Unified Public Schools in California.
Webinar slides
Additional Resources

Finding Local Producers, originally recorded on Feb. 13, 2014

Christina Conell, from USDA's Food and Nutrition Service, discusses the variety of ways that schools can connect with local farmers, ranchers and other food businesses. The webinar covers online connection tools, requests for information, the role of state farm to school coordinators and state departments of agriculture, and USDA resources such as the Farm Service Agency's field offices and Cooperative Extension resources. Guest speakers from the Maryland Department of Agriculture, Michigan State University and a Michigan farm share their tips for connecting with producers.
Webinar slides
Additional Resources

Using the Informal Procurement Method, originally recorded on Feb. 27, 2014

Christina Conell from USDA's Food and Nutrition Service discusses how schools can purchase local products using the informal method. The session also showcases stories and tips from Union Public Schools in Oklahoma and Kalispell Public Schools in Montana.
Webinar slides
Additional Resources

Using Specifications to Target Local Products, originally recorded on March 13, 2014

Christina Conell, from USDA's Food and Nutrition Service discusses how schools can purchase local products by using product specifications, vendor requirements and evaluation criteria. 
Webinar Slides 
Additional Resources

Working with Distributors, originally recorded on March 27, 2014

USDA's Farm to School Team discusses how schools can purchase local products through distributors. A food service director from Tennessee and a farm to school coordinator from Georgia share how they've been able to work with distributors to buy local foods.
Webinar slides
Additional Resources

Using a Forward Contract, originally recorded on April 10, 2014

USDA's Farm to School Program team discusses the different ways schools may choose to use a forward contract when purchasing local foods. Megan Kemple with Willamette Farm & Food Coalition in Oregon also presents on how she has successfully used forward contracts to buy local products.
Webinar slides
Additional Resources

Introduction to Geographic Preference, originally recorded on April 24, 2014

The USDA Farm to School Program team introduces the geographic preference option, explains when it can be used and offers a few examples for how a school might use geographic preference.
Webinar slides

Additional Resources

Using Geographic Preference, originally recorded on May 8, 2014

This webinar offers a review of the geographic preference option and provides an in-depth look at how three districts are using geographic preference.
Webinar Slides
Using Geographic Preference in Four Steps
Sample Geographic Preference Language

Using USDA Foods as Resource to Purchase Local
, originally recorded on May 22, 2014

The USDA Farm to School Program team discusses the history of the USDA Foods Program and the four ways it can support school districts in their purchasing efforts. The Vermont Agency of Education also shares how they utilize the program to support local purchasing.
Webinar slides
Additional Resources

Using DoD Fresh to Purchase Local, originally recorded on June 12, 2014

This webinar focuses on the Department of Defense Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (DoD Fresh), beginning with an overview of how the program works and a few examples of states and districts that are augmenting their farm to school efforts with produce ordered through DoD Fresh. Then, the Texas Department of Agriculture shares how they have successfully worked with DoD Fresh vendors to create a Texas Farm to School calendar and offer Texas-grown products throughout the year.
Webinar slides
Additional Resources

Tying it all Together
, originally recorded on June 26, 2014

During the last webinar in the twelve-part series, the USDA Farm to School Program offers a speedy recap of the variety of ways districts can purchase local foods, and talks through an example of how one district is tying it all together with a comprehensive local purchasing program. Deborah Kane, the National Director of USDA's Farm to School Program, wraps up the webinar by explaining how local procurement fits into the larger farm to school picture and shares several resources that are available to help you meet local purchasing goals.
Webinar slides

Assistance available in English and Spanish. Please call 877-TEX-MEAL (877-839-6325) for help.

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Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g. Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.), should contact the Agency (State or local) where they applied for benefits. Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339. Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English.

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Texas Department of Agriculture

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