Farm to Cafeteria

This school year has provided many Oregon school districts great new opportunities for working with local and regional growers and processors. RVF2S has been assisting in every way possible to maximize the possibilities for both farms and school food service managers.

In January the USDA Pilot Project for Procurement of Unprocessed Fruits and Vegetables was announced as part of the 2014 Farm Bill.
Oregon is one of eight states participating in the pilot that allows the school districts to use entitlement funds for fresh product. Prior to the USDA Pilot, entitlement funds were used to purchase frozen, canned, dry or processed commodity products, but nothing fresh. There are five school districts in Jackson & Josephine counties which are purchasing from two approved local vendors; Fry Family Farm and Naumes Inc. The schools have been serving watermelons, cucumbers, beets, tomatoes, peppers, summer and winter squash, and of course - pears!

Additionally, in the 2015 Oregon legislative session, which ended in early July, our state leaders made important changes to the Farm to School and School Garden grant program, including funding an Oregon Farm to School non-competitive grant. This provides funding for districts to be reimbursed for Oregon grown or processed foods. School districts were invited to opt-in to the program, 91% of the students in the state are now benefiting from this funding. The Oregon Department of Education, as well as the entities who worked so hard to pass this bill hope to see more districts opting-in as we are able to offer support for this great new initiative to improve the spectrum of Oregon grown and processed goodness on the lunch line.