Farm To School Back »

Written by Dakota Rural Action with contributions and review by:

  • Holly Tilton Byrne, Community Organizer
  • Lindsey Kennedy, SDSU Extension, Local Food Program Assistant
  • Chris Zdorovtsov (former SDSU Extension Community Vitality Field Specialist)

Photo by: Lance Cheung

Farm to School is broadly defined as a program that connects schools (K-12) and local farms with the objectives of serving healthy meals in school cafeterias, improving student nutrition, providing agriculture, health and nutrition education opportunities, and supporting local and regional farmers. Every day millions of children eat at least one meal at their school. In Fiscal Year 2011, more than 31.8 million children each day got their lunch through the National School Lunch Program. 1 With so many children getting their nutrition through schools it is no wonder that the source of the food has grabbed peoples’ attention. For this reason the Farm to School Network was launched in the late 1990s. The program is now operational in all 50 states with over an estimated 12,000 schools participating. Dakota Rural Action joined the National Farm to School Network in 2010 as the South Dakota State Lead.

The National Farm to School Network supports the work of local Farm to School programs all over the country by providing free training and technical assistance, information services, networking, and support for policy, media and marketing activities. Visit: to sign up for their email list.

     South Dakota National Farm to School Network State Lead
     Holly Tilton Byrne, Dakota Rural Action



  • National Farm to School Network: A one-stop resource for farm to school resources, publications webinars and more. Click on your state to find local information.
  • USDA Farm to School: The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) supports such efforts through its Farm to School Program, which includes research, training, technical assistance and grants.
  • Implementing Farm to School Activities: Guidance for beginning or expanding a farm to school program for foodservice, farmers and distributors.
  • Toolkit for School Foodservice: (Minnesota Extension) provides tools for those starting or expanding a farm to school program. Includes recipes, trainings, promotion materials and more.
  • Tools for Farmers: (Minnesota Extension) provides farm to school resources related to getting started, business management, food safety and farm field trips.
  • Farm to School Toolkits for Foodservice, Producers & Distributors: (Gretchen Swanson Center for Nutrition) This source out of Nebraska guide from farm to cafeteria with short articles, links and a full toolkit.
  • Farm to School Evaluation Toolkit: (National Farm to School Network) These evaluation tool helps you collect the information you when developing a farm to school program. It includes survey forms and interview guides to address food service workers, school administrators, farmers and students.
  • Going Local: Paths to Success for Farm to School Programs: (Farm to School Network) This publication provides eight profiles of farm to school programs from across the country. It details the operations and accomplishments as well as the challenges and barriers that project managers overcome when instituting successful programs.
  • Farm to School Field Guide for Parents and Community Members: (Community Alliance with Family Farmers) This publication outlines steps that parents and community members can take to develop successful Farm to School programs, including integrating education into the classroom and creating a School Nutrition Action Council (SNAC).
  • USDA Farm to School Census: A 2013 survey of approximately 13,000 public school districts to determine the prevalence of farm to school programs in the U.S.


1. Dakota Rural Action (2012). Farm to School (Fact Sheet).

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