Technical Assistance

"The knowledge we gained has ignited an excitement that is contagious. So many great ideas came from our team time and working with other like-minded people that share the same passion. The staff from Shelburne Farm and VT FEED were wonderfully helpful, insightful and fun. We were extremely fortunate have been able to participate. I can wait to start implementing some of our action plan!"

 - Particpant from Waterville, NY

"This course allowed us to come together as professionals and share experiences and ideas with the insight and support of extremely knowledgable instructors."

- Participant from Bellows Falls, VT

VT FEED is uniquely positioned to provide technical assistance on farm to school because it is a partnership project of Shelburne Farms, an organization steeped in professional and curriculum development, and NOFA-VT, a farmer organization with a deep understanding of school meal programs. VT FEED offers technical assistance to school districts, farms, professional organizations, child nutrition programs, non-profit organizations, and practitioners to support the development of robust farm to school programs.

Our staff offers expertise in farm to school and farm to preschool program development, local purchasing, culinary skills, curriculum design, nutrition education, community outreach, professional development, and more. Since farm to school programs differ in their needs and strengths, we offer a range of opportunities from half-day consultations to ongoing mentoring relationships. In addition to the specific technical training areas described below, we offer a variety of training and professional development workshops. Get in touch to discuss your needs!

Click on the titles for expanded information.

Introduction to Farm to School

Have you heard of farm to school, but aren’t quite sure what it would mean for your school or preschool? Is your school eager to start a program, but needs help making the case and building support? 

VT FEED offers support and resources to help schools understand what farm to school is; share the benefits for schools, students, and communities; and help teams decide what kind of program is right for them.

Topics include:

  • benefits of farm to school programs
  • the “3-C” model (integrating Classrooms, Cafeterias, and Communities)
  • sample program models and activities
  • success stories
  • steps and strategies for getting started
  • resources for farm to school activities

Farm to School Action Planning

Maybe your school has started a garden or classroom activities, but hasn’t connected all of the dots. Maybe you have great aspirations but need more volunteers or support. If you’re ready to take farm to school to the next level, then action planning is for you. 

VT FEED uses an established action planning process to help you build a diverse and committed farm to school team, clarify goals, develop strategies, and make it happen. Whatever stage your program is in, we can help you strengthen your activities and spread the benefits even further.

Topics include:

  • building a diverse and committed farm to school team
  • setting goals and objectives
  • implementing the “3-C” model (Classroom, Cafeteria, and Community)
  • identifying and prioritizing action steps
  • gaining funding and support
  • communicating about farm to school and engaging the community
  • evaluating your work

Curriculum Development

Curriculum is both a challenge and an opportunity for most schools. Classroom activities are one of the best ways to engage kids in farm to school, and yet teachers must balance curriculum guidelines, school calendars and policies, and the needs of their students. 

VT FEED offers support to teachers and schools on integrating farm to school into the curriculum. We help administrators identify ways to integrate farm to school into curriculum standards, share successful lessons and best practices for curriculum development, review and help to improve farm to school lessons, and help teachers bring farm to school into their current classroom activities.

Local Purchasing

Increasingly, schools across Vermont are buying local ingredients to serve in the cafeteria. Why? Because serving local foods accomplishes several goals that are important to schools, such as:

  • increasing the quality and nutritional value of food served to students
  • supporting local agriculture and the local economy
  • building students’ awareness about where food comes from and helping them develop a connection to their food and the people who grow it
  • creating connections between the cafeteria and classroom, which enhance learning through hands-on experiences

Incorporating local foods into the school is a long-term effort that requires a systemic approach, creativity, and collaboration. It’s up to each individual school or district to define what local means and why they value it.

VT FEED offers support to schools, preschools, and farms across Vermont on both local purchasing (the general process of sourcing and using local foods) and local procurement (the regulated system of purchasing local foods through the food supply chain). Topics include:

  • values-based tiered buying
  • action planning
  • developing relationships with local farmers
  • sourcing and procuring local food
  • balancing USDA and local foods to meet budget
  • fundraising to support buying local
  • food safety in the school kitchen and on the farm
  • scratch-cooking with fresh, local ingredients
  • USDA Dietary Guidelines
  • incorporating local food into recipes and menus
  • marketing a local food program
  • introducing new foods to students
  • building and supporting a school team to create school-wide food system chang

School Consultations

VT FEED staff work in ongoing coaching relationships with farm to school organizations helping to establish and/or strengthen their farm to school support and professional development programs. If you are looking for advice, ideas, and assistance with your farm to school program, get in touch!