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.
For more information about the Farm to School program sponsored by the Center of Rural Affairs, contact Kathie Starkweather, or 402.617.7946.
Nebraska Thursdays is a program that brings schools together to serve a Nebraska-sourced meal in the cafeteria on the first Thursday of each month. Center for Rural Affairs, Nebraska Department of Education Nutrition Services, and Omaha Public Schools Nutrition Services are partnering together to roll-out a pilot program in five school districts across Nebraska in the 2017-2018 school year. 

More information for schools wishing to participate in the 2018-2019 school year will be available in Fall 2018.  
Questions about Nebraska Thursdays can be directed to
Sandra Renner, Center for Rural Affairs,, 402.320.3444;
or Sarah Smith, Nebraska Department of Education Nutrition Services,, 402.937.1630.
Additional support for this project comes from the Nebraska Dry Bean Commission, Midwest Dairy Council, and Nebraska Beef Council. 

Farm to School Notes


Greenhouse to Cafeteria

Center for Rural Affairs launched the Greenhouse to Cafeteria program in 2015 after finding that many schools in Nebraska had greenhouses, but only used those greenhouses for starting perennials or growing holiday plants. Some were even empty - a missed opportunity for Nebraska’s kids.

The program assists schools in teaching valuable lessons as the kids to start, tend, and harvest plants. Greenhouses transform into edible organic gardens that provide food for the school cafeteria, educate students about where food comes from, and teach entrepreneurial skills.

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Video: from Farm to School Cafeteria to Tray

Veggies only have to travel about five blocks from field to students' plates at East Butler Public Schools in Brainard, Nebraska.

Fox Run Farms, a family-run operation on the edge of Brainard, provides the school lunch program with fresh food. In part one of our two-part Farm to School series featuring East Butler, we join Yolanda Bailey, of Fox Run Farms, as she harvests some red, orange and green peppers.

Local food served on school lunch trays nationwide

October is National Farm to School Month, a time to recognize the importance of improving child nutrition, supporting local economies, and educating communities about the origins of their food.

In 2016, the Center for Rural Affairs joined more than 220 organizations nationwide to promote farm to school throughout October. This year marks the seventh year for National Farm to School Month, designated by Congress to bring awareness to the growing importance of these programs in child nutrition, local economies, and education.