What is Farm To School?

Iowa Lawmakers passed Farm to School legislation in 2007 to establish a program that would:

  • Link elementary, secondary, public and  non-public schools with Iowa farmers;
  • Provide schools with fresh and minimally processed Iowa-grown food for inclusion in school meals and snacks; and
  • Encourage children to develop healthy eating habits and provide them with hands-on learning activities. 

The Farm to School Program is coordinated by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship in partnership with the Iowa Department of Education.

Iowa’s Farm to School mission is to encourage and promote the purchase of locally produced food in our schools and early care centers, strengthen the farm economy and offer educational opportunities to improve child nutrition and health. 


Iowa Farm to Summer Campaign – Let Us Eat Lettuce

"Let Us Eat Lettuce!" Our statewide campaign and associated materials celebrate local LETTUCE as the freshest vegetable of the summer. And we bet kids will think so, too! With a collective focus on this familiar, readily-available veggie, we hope to increase participation of children at Iowa summer meal sites and support local producers.  Visit the Iowa Farm to Summer Campaign Website for more information: https://www.iowafarmtoschoolearlycare.org/farm-to-summer

The Iowa Farm to Summer Campaign is a collaborative project hosted by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Iowa Department of Education, FoodCorps Iowa, and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach - Farm, Food, and Enterprise Development.


Farm to School & Early Care Producer Directory

The Farm to School & Early Care Producer directory can be used by both schools in order to find locally produced food, and by producers to list their products available to schools.


Make it Fresh: A Guide to Procuring Local Foods

Make it Fresh is a resource from the Iowa Department of Education. This document aims to assist Child Nutrition Program operators in navigating the regulations by providing information and resources that operators need to successfully incorporate local products into their menus.

View Make it Fresh: A Guide to Procuring Local Foods



Frequently Asked Questions about the Farm to School Program
What is farm to school?

Farm to school programs feature school purchases of food (commonly fresh fruits and vegetables) from local farmers. Nutrition lessons can be coordinated with the fresh produce being served for lunch. Programs can also include Ag-in-the-Classroom curriculum, school gardens, food tastings and cooking classes, and farm visits, all of which get kids excited about healthy food. 

What does locally grown food mean?

Locally grown usually means grown nearby and includes anything grown in Iowa. 

How do farm to school programs fit into the school lunch program?

Locally grown food can be offered as part of a hot lunch, breakfast, as snacks or, as in some schools, offered on a salad bar. 

How has farm to school in Iowa been funded so far?

Senate File 601 passed in 2007 has given initial funding for the farm to school program in Iowa.  The program is being coordinated through both the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and the Department of Education.  Prior to this year no funding has been appropriated from state appropriations.   

How can people find out more about the Iowa Farm to School program?

Tammy Stotts is the Iowa farm to school coordinator.  She works to promote the program and connect farmers and schools. Tammy can be reached at the Iowa Department of Agriculture, Ag Diversification and Market Development Bureau, phone 515-281-7657 or email: tammy.stotts@iowaagriculture.gov

How can I sell to a local school?

Farmers can list their products on the Farm to School Directory.  New listings must be approved before they appear on the directory. Farmers can also call and make an appointment directly with a local school district. Take your business materials (price and crop list, business card, references) and perhaps a sample for the Food Service Director. Or you can inquire about existing farm to school programs that might connect you to a group of farmers that sell or deliver together.  Contact the Farm to School Program at the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.   

How do farm to school programs contribute to children’s health?

Farm to school programs contribute to children’s health by helping kids develop healthy eating habits that will last a lifetime. According to research into existing farm to school efforts, students choose significantly more servings of fruits and vegetables when given the choice of high quality, farm-fresh produce. When they are well-nourished, children learn better. 

As a School, how do I participate in the Farm to School Program?

Schools can browse the Farm to School Directory to find locally produced products. Schools can contact the producer directly, or create an account to submit a bid request online.

How do I make you aware of our school’s activities?
How can I learn more about what local items schools are purchasing and the prices being paid?