The Iowa Farm to School Program provided funding to link schools and children with local farmers and organizations to offer fresh, locally grown food and nutrition based educational opportunities. The program is coordinated by Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and the Iowa Department of Education. Farm to School is broadly defined as any program that connects schools 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.

There are many ways to implement Farm to School and it does not just mean serving local foods as a part of the meal line. Ideas include:

  • Invite a local farmer, chef or have food service staff present an activity or talk to students about a food and how it is grown.
  • Plan nutrition education activities, such as Harvest of the Month, featuring a local food product that is in season.
  • Collaborate with teachers to plan an outdoor garden plot or container gardening activity.
  • Encourage the use of local foods as a healthy school fundraiser or a feature at a special event.

Iowa Local Food

  • Iowa Local Food Day - A celebration of Iowa farmers and local foods during National Farm to School Month. The annual event brings together all sectors of Farm to School, unifying the state around the success of our farms, children, and schools. To participate, schools must serve at least two items (dishes for breakfast and lunch) with primarily locally sourced items.
  • Farm to School Cycle Menu - Created by school food service directors in Northeast Iowa as an easy way to incorporate more Iowa-grown foods onto school lunch trays. Includes a 5-week cycle menu, incorporates Iowa-grown foods each week including fruit, vegetables, meat, and dairy and offers fall, winter, and spring variations.

Buying Local Food

Make it Fresh: A Guide to Procuring Local Food guide to procuring local foods was developed through Iowa’s FY20 Team Nutrition Grant and will help schools procure local foods for their school nutrition program. The guide will help schools determine where and when to purchase local foods, the amount to purchase, food safety practices to consider when using local foods and how to apply the different procurement methods when procuring local foods. Below are the supplemental documents referenced throughout the guide.

Local Food Cycle Menus

Small Purchase Evaluation Matrix

Iowa Farm to School Local Purchase Report - Report your school's local purchases with USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) by contacting John Goetz at or 515-284-4460. Demonstrates the increasing demand for locally grown product and offers a snapshot to schools across the state as to prices being paid for Iowa-grown fruits and vegetables.

Checklist for Retail Purchasing of Local Produce

USDA Procuring Local Foods

Local Food Fundraiser - Summary of a fundraising pilot that took place at MFL MarMac with the Iowa Food Hub that included products from northeast Iowa farms and businesses.

School Garden Resources

The school garden not only shows students where their food comes from, but can provide a “hands on” educational opportunity.

Education Lessons