Farm to School

The landscape of food on children’s plates here in Nebraska is diverse, healthy, and delicious. This helps farm to school in Nebraska embrace the entire plate.
Farm to School is a natural fit for Nebraska's rich history in agriculture. The term "Farm to School" refers to schools serving locally grown or produced fresh foods from the school cafeteria. This can range from fruits and vegetables to eggs to honey to meat. Often schools incorporate curriculums built around nutrition, agriculture, and science. Doing this creates learning opportunities based on experience, like farm visits, gardening, and culinary and entrepreneurial programs.

Center for Rural Affairs Greenhouse to Cafeteria Program

The Center for Rural Affairs currently provides financial and technical support to 10 Nebraska school greenhouse programs. We’re proud to partner with Nebraska FFA and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension in this effort.

Our participant schools are:

  • East Butler Public Schools,
  • The Umonhon Nation Public School, 
  • Santee Community Schools,
  • North Bend Central Public Schools,
  • Lexington Public Schools,
  • Minatare Public Schools,
  • Tri County Public Schools,
  • Ravenna Public Schools,
  • Rock County Public Schools, and
  • Garden County Schools.

If you have questions about your own greenhouse programs or need technical assistance, reach out to Justin Carter at, Erin Schoenberg at, or Kirstin Bailey at

How to get involved in Farm to School

2020 Mountain Plains Crunch Off - Oct. 22, 2020

The Crunch Off celebrates local foods in schools by devoting one day for students to bite into something crunchy, like local apples or carrots. Nebraska will compete with other states in our region. Last year, Nebraska was victorious.

For more information visit the Nebraska Department of Education website.

Nebraska Thursdays

Serve a Nebraska-sourced meal in the school cafeterias on the first Thursday of each month and celebrate Nebraska Thursdays. Devoting this single day to local food each month will allow you to jump start Farm to School programs and build interest with staff and students.

For more information, visit our Nebraska Thursdays page or visit the Nebraska Department of Education website

Harvest of the Month

Harvest of the Month is a statewide farm to school program that promotes a different Nebraska specialty crop for each month of the school year. The program provides schools with resources to sample and serve local foods in the cafeteria.

For more information, visit the Nebraska Department of Education website.


Farm to School Notes


Farm to School Enriches Our Community

Due to COVID-19, local foods have become a buzzword. More farmers are utilizing direct to consumer marketing strategies to reach customers through online sales, community-supported agriculture (CSAs), and farmers markets. Is there room for schools in these markets? Farm to School can be concentrated in the procurement of local foods for the cafeteria as well as in outdoor and agriculture education programs.

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From Greenhouse to Cafeteria: A Toolkit for Creating and Revamping Greenhouse Programs in Nebraska Schools

The Center for Rural Affairs is working with schools across the state of Nebraska to revamp greenhouse programs.

While school greenhouses can be utilized in a variety of ways, our goal is the cultivation of nutritious produce that can be returned to the study body, bringing the greenhouse into the cafeteria. Fresh fruits and vegetables served on the lunch trays of our students only adds to our agriculture heritage. Greenhouses can serve as knowledge centers helping to instruct the next generation on where their food comes from and how they can be the next to grow it. By providing healthy meals and a rich agriculture education, we grow the sustainability of our communities and their food systems.

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Contest aims to get more local produce into school cafeterias

Nebraska will be defending its regional title in this year's Crunch Off competition, where schools across the nation devour locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables.

Justin Carter, project associate with the Center for Rural Affairs, is encouraging all school districts, and even families if kids are learning remotely, to sign up and start planting. On Oct. 22, kids will take bites of their favorite produce, and the state with the most "crunches" per capita wins.