Massachusetts Farm to Cafeteria Conference: Pollinate!

At the Massachusetts Farm to Cafeteria Conference: Pollinate! last month, farmers, school nutrition professionals, and educators gathered at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester to learn about a variety of farm to school topics. Areas included:

  • How to promote and incorporate local foods into school meals
  • Food and nutrition education
  • State and and regional networking
Katie Millett at the MA Farm to Cafeteria Conference
Katie Millet, from the MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, welcomes the audience at the Massachusetts Farm to Cafeteria Conference

Many school nutrition directors presented at the conference:

Jenny Devivo
Jenny Devivo from West Tisbury and Chilmark Public Schools

In Farm to School Planning 101, participants learned about ideas to bring local foods into schools. Speakers in this session included Catherine Sands, director of Fertile Ground, Simca Horwitz, Eastern MA Program Director for MA Farm to School, Jenny Devivo, school nutrition director at West Tisbury and Chilmark Public Schools, and Noli Taylor, director of Island Grown Schools. Creating school gardens is one way to incorporate farm to school planning, and can involve:

  • Engaging the local community
  • Recruiting volunteers, such as parents
  • Creating a sense of ownership for school gardens
  • Establishing a vision
  • Beginning a gleaning program

Many suggestions were given to include and promote local foods at schools:

  • Process and freeze local produce to use for future meals
  • Combine local food with canned or packaged food if needed
  • Taking advantage of Mass. Farm to School’s Harvest of the Month campaign, which promotes a different Massachusetts-grown seasonal vegetable each month
  • Have students help to prepare food that will be served in school meals
  • If there is enough support, documentation, and research, schools may consider terminating their food service contracts so that they can take control over their school meals. For example, this happened in the West Tisbury and Chilmark Public Schools.

There are many different ways to increase healthy, locally grown foods in your schools. Read our recaps about the School Gardens and Culturally-Relevant Recipes sessions from the Massachusetts Farm to Cafeteria Conference: Pollinate!. To learn more about the Massachusetts Farm to School Project, visit their website. For additional information related to farm-to-school initiatives, sustainability, and nutrition lesson plans, visit our Go Green for Schools page in the JSI Resource Center.

© The John C. Stalker Institute, 2020
The John C. Stalker Institute of Food and Nutrition is a partnership of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and Framingham State University.

This institution is an equal opportunity provider.
USDA Nondiscrimination Statement.

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