Garden to Cafeteria

Garden to Cafeteria Toolkit Launch

Join Slow Food USA and Whole Kids Foundation, with the support of United Health Foundation, as we launch a new resource to help you establish a Garden to Cafeteria program in your district.

  • Does your district have a robust school garden program?
  • Does your Food Service department participate in Farm to School procurement?
  • Would your students like to see fresh produce from the school garden served on the salad bars in your school?

Slow Food USA has assembled a Garden to Cafeteria (GTC) toolkit to assist a school district in developing the necessary food safety protocols, training workshops, and partnerships to launch their own GTC program. The toolkit is based on successful implantations of GTC programs in Denver, San Diego, Chicago, and Austin. The webinar will present the toolkit and announce a pilot program to involve 3 school districts to test the toolkit with in-person support from Slow Food USA.

Hosted by: Andrew Nowak, Slow Food USA, and Tristana Pirkl, Whole Kids Foundation

Watch the Garden to Cafeteria Toolkit Launch Webinar

Denver Public Schools GTC Program

The Garden To Cafeteria (GTC) program teaches students how to grow and harvest food safely to be used in the school cafeterias on the salad bars and in some cases, in scratch-cooking recipes. Using proper Food Safety Protocols, students provide fresh produce from the school gardens to the school kitchens with proceeds supporting the sustainability of the school garden. In some cases, the food service department purchases the produce with the funds going back into the school garden program to cover costs of maintaining the gardens.

Using fun signage on the salad bars, produce is identified in the salad items as having come from the garden. The garden programs benefit from the increase exposure and from the funding provided by the purchases of the produce.

In Denver, the Garden to Cafeteria program is now in its sixth year and has resulted in over 5,000 pounds of school garden produce going into the salad bars at about 250 schools. Overall, the GTC program has raised $5,000 for the garden programs at those schools.

Food Safety Protocols

One of the most inspiring moments in school garden work is watching children enjoying sun-warmed strawberries or cherry tomatoes directly off the plants. As garden leaders, we must ensure food safety practices are in place that will minimize any risks associated with eating fresh produce from the garden. This section contains food safety guidelines from several districts across the country to address concerns of using school garden produce in classrooms and cafeterias.

Garden to Cafeteria (GTC)

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