USDA Farm to School Grant- Planning
Dallas ISD (DISD) has several initiatives that teach and model healthy eating including healthy menu planning, coordinated school health curriculum, local wellness policy, robust physical education, Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program and school gardens. However, DISD had not linked all of these activities together until this grant funding provided the opportunity to build and strengthen relationships with local farmers, non-profits and food wholesalers/distributors, identify seasonal fruits and vegetables grown locally and in school gardens to include on school menus, identify curriculum to integrate gardening and experimental learning across core subject areas and identify strategies for evaluation and sustainability of a farm to school program. The Food and Child Nutrition Services worked with District Coordinated School Health and Texas A&M University to pilot test curriculum Texas Grow! Eat! Go!, Walk across Texas and CATCH Coordinated School Health Curriculum. The local fresh produce supplier helped to identify and track the volume of product and sales of locally/regionally grown foods. This grant opened another door to students to experience school-grown and locally-grown foods, as well as stimulate the local/regional economy.
Dallas ISD recently reflected on the successes. “Our greatest achievement came from the realization that as of to date, we have doubled the amount of local produce we purchase since we started tracking our local produce purchases in 2012. During the 2012-13 school year, Dallas ISD spent $320,000 on local produce (not including USDA Foods purchases). To date for the 2015-2016 school year (with April-June still to go!), we have spent $630,000. We also anticipate featuring some locally grown items on our summer food service program menu during the summer months.”
USDA Farm to School Grant- Implementation
DISD’s Farm to School Implementation Project has three areas of focus. First, the district will encourage increased consumption of fruits and vegetables by expanding and building upon the existing Harvest of the Month promotional activities, taste tests, distribution of fresh produce at schools and other activities which promote the benefits of locally grown products. Second, the district will expand experiential and agricultural based learning opportunities through the expansion of school gardens, field trips and teacher trainings to integrate farm to school into the curriculum and classrooms. Lastly, DISD will expand the supply chain by increasing the pool of local farmers who can supply items for use in DISD child nutrition programs.