Farm to School

The Iowa City Community School District Farm to School Program, coordinated by Field to Family, provides students with hands-on opportunities to learn about healthy food habits and procures fresh, locally grown foods for school meals and snacks. During the past six years our organization has provided educational outreach programs in schools, helped start and maintain school gardens, and added fresh, locally grown produce to school lunch menus. The goals of the ICCSD Farm to School Chapter are to:

  • Support school gardens in order to teach kids where their food comes from, encourage kids to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables and to provide gardening experience.
  • Increase the amount of fresh, local food that students eat.
  • Increase the number of students who receive lessons and hands-on activities teaching the components of a healthy and sustainable community food system.

We support school gardens by providing an annual workshop for school staff and garden volunteers, complete an annual assessment on the number and types of school gardens in the district, including how they are used and mobilize volunteers to offer hands-on support and other resources to start and maintain school gardens. We work to increase the amount of fresh, local food that students eat by working with the Nutrition Service Director and staff to add more locally–sourced fresh foods to school lunch menus, in-school snacks and special events in the classroom by 5 percent from 2014 levels and by setting up farm stands in neighborhoods in food deserts beginning in fall 2016. We work to increase the number of students who receive lessons and hands-on activities on the components of a healthy and sustainable food system by offering Farmer Fairs in elementary schools and alongside other events, including Kid’s Day at the Iowa City Farmers Market and alongside our farm stands.

The ICCSD Farm to School programs help the ICCSD meet one of its Wellness Policy goals which states, “Food items served and sold in schools shall to the extent possible be prepared from fresh, locally grown or produced, and organic ingredients. Food service staff will design and actively pursue programs which make this possible, and if necessary recruit the support of local individuals and organizations.”

Our Projects:

farmerfair westhighgarden servinglettuce
Farmer Fairs School Gardens School Lunches
Introducing elementary school students to farmers, local food, and nutrition basics. Students at most ICCSD schools are growing food in school gardens Serving more locally-grown food for lunch
  • Farm to School Farmer Fairs at Alexander and Twain Elementary Schools, May 13 and May 20, 2016– Bringing the Farm to the School! Press Release Photos
  • Farmer Fairs are in-school field trips
  • Students rotate through 6 hands-on learning activities, meet farmers, taste freshly harvested foods, plant in the garden, more!;
  • Farm to School has held 12 Farmer Fairs at 11 ICCSD elementary schools.
  • Goals are to teach kids where their food comes from, increase the amount of healthy foods kids eat and connect local farmers to schools.
F2S has procured local apples, broccoli, cantaloupe, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, salad greens, sweet potatoes, watermelon and zucchini for the school district.

Pounds of locally grown food purchased by ICCSD per year since F2S started

  • 2011: 1,392
  • 2012: 1,243
  • 2013: 9,436.5
  • 2014: 5,430
  • 2015: 12,613
  • 2016: 13,081
  • 2017: 13,270

TOTAL since Farm to School began 57,466 pounds!

How you can support Farm to School 

Field to Family staff work closely with ICCSD Nutrition Services to procure fruits and vegetables grown locally for school lunch menus (within 200 miles of the school district), negotiating price (within the school food budget), delivery, packaging and quantity. Finding the farmer with the  quantity needed for such a large school district, individually working with each farm on deliverables and establishing protocol and regulations required by the school district is not an easy or quick task. Organizing school garden workshops and Farmer Fairs is a huge investment in our staff’s time and our organizational resources. We are only able to do this work through support from the community. You can support our work by:

  1. Become a Member of Field to Family;
  2. Attend PTO meetings and request small donations to the Farm to School chapter;
  3. Volunteer for Field to Family and provide event support for our Local Foods Festival mid September, graphic design expertise for all our programs and/or support for our fundraising goals. Contact Michelle for more information about volunteering.

HISTORY & BACKGROUND of the ICCSD Farm to School Chapter 

The ICCSD Farm to School chapter was established August 2010. During its first year ICCSD Farm to School projects impacted a diverse range of schools and students within the district. For example, Farm to School worked with the ICCSD Food Services director and local growers during spring 2011 to serve locally-grown lettuce for lunch to all 25 schools in the district for the first time. On June 1, 2011, ICCSD served 330 pounds of locally-grown lettuce for lunch. Each school displayed educational materials about the lettuce and the farmers who grew it. Community volunteers visited nearly all the schools in the district during lunch to encourage students to eat the lettuce. (Response from students was tremendous. Some students requested three and four servings of lettuce, and some called out, “This lettuce is good!”)

Basic information on Field to Family’s Farm to School program and partnership with Iowa City Community School District can be found here:

Farm to School Basics

Farm to School Basics 2

Farm to School Basics 3

ICCSD Farm to School has been supported by partnerships with: