Farm to School District Profiles

Increasing consumption of locally produced fresh fruits and vegetables through sourcing, cooking, serving styles, and garden-enhanced nutrition education.

Ft. Bragg Unified School DistrictSononma Valley Unified School DistrictNovato Unified School DistrictOakland Unified School DistrictTurlock Unified School DistrictSanta Cruz City SchoolsSanta Rita Union School DistrictPaso Robles Joint Unified School DistrictVentura Unified School DistrictEscondido Union High School DistrictRiverside Unifed School District
From June 2010-February 2011 Child Nutrition Services Directors from eleven California School Districts conducted a thorough survey and helped facilitate video documentation of their school food and farm to school programs.

These districts varied in their offerings of farm to school type programming, but they all demonstrated means of providing fresh fruits and vegetables to their students.

For each district find a summary of the survey and a video documenting their programs.

  • A big thank you goes out to the school districts that participated in this survey and video project.
  • This project was funded by the California Department of Education Nutrition Services Division. View more Garden Enhanced Nutrition Education Resources from the CDE
Also see Who's Cooking School Lunch? A blog about the people who are putting school lunch on the plate everyday.


  1. 1 Escondido Union High School District
  2. 2 Novato Unified School District
  3. 3 Riverside Unified School District
  4. 4 Santa Rita Union School District
  5. 5 Ventura Unified School District
  6. 6 Fort Bragg Unified School District
  7. 7 Oakland Unified School District
  8. 8 Santa Cruz City Schools
  9. 9 Paso Robles Joint Unified School District
  10. 10 Sonoma Valley Unified School District
  11. 11 Turlock Unified School District

Escondido Union High School District

EUHSD is comprised of four high schools - 3 traditional high schools and one continuation school.  8,500 students are enrolled, with 50.1% of the student population eligible for free or reduced priced lunch. Approximately 358,000 breakfasts and 543,000 lunches are served annually.

50.1% of the student population is eligible for free or reduced priced lunch.

Eye appeal is key to attracting new customers. New meals such as salads and teriyaki bowls are designed with this in mind.

The district is helping to create a food hub in San Diego County to facilitate the procurement of locally grown fruits and vegetables for institutional buyers.

View EUHSD Farm to School Summary
EUSDH Nutrition Services Website

Novato Unified School District

NUSD is creating “Total School Wellness Environment” in its fourteen K-12 schools that serve 7,800 students. About 4,500 breakfast and lunch meals are served each day.

An on-farm gleaning project helps to make the farm to fork connection for students while increasing local and organic produce offerings.

NUSD has removed the vending machines from all schools and chocolate milk from K-8 schools.

Salad and vegetarian options are offered at all school sites. Vegan options are noted on their menus.

Community partners and portable nutrition education kits help to promote wellness education.

School garden programs are active in many of NUSD schools.

Breakfast served during class time in all elementary schools bolsters breakfast participation.

View NUSD Farm to School Summary
NUSD Farm to School Webpage Includes a great video from Ec0 Company TV on Marin Organic Farm Gleaning Program
NUSD Nutrition Services Website

Riverside Unified School District

Approximately 43,400 students are enrolled, with 59.5% eligible for free or reduced priced meals.  Daily, the district serves nearly 8,000 breakfasts, 26,000 lunches, and almost 2,000 snacks.

A Farmers Market Salad Bar is featured at each of the 29 elementary schools.  50-100% of salad bar items are sourced from local growers, depending on the season. Secondary schools offer prepackaged salads.

The RUSD salad bar coordinator makes purchases directly from several local farmers. The district reinvented its invoice and payment procedures to accommodate small farmers who need to be paid quickly.

The district’s nutrition educator conducts taste tests monthly at select schools to pique interest in new fruits and vegetables.  Free samples are always offered to promote new meal items to students. 

View RUSD Farm to School Summary
RUSD Nutrition Services Website In addition to menus, meal applications, nutrition information and contacts their site also includes:
  • The Farmer's Market Salad Bar Program Booklet - a detailed guide to setting up a salad bar program
  • Videos highlighting their work

Nice video on RUSD Farm to School Programming made by Occidental College in 2004.

Santa Rita Union School District

SRUSD is composed of six schools serving about 3000 students, 70% are eligible for free and reduced price meals. Two schools have 100% free and reduced price meal eligibility. About 2000 lunch and 830 breakfast meals are served each day.

Free fresh fruit/salad bars are offered at all schools, everyday. Pre packaged salads are offered in one middle school that does not have space for a salad bar.

SRUSD Food Service is managed by Sodexo who offers a full range of print and display promotional materials including a harvest of the month promotion.

Sodexo’s produce distributor Fresh Point offers informative buying guides and is working towards providing source identification on invoices.

A reusable “red basket” serving tray is helping to reduce waste and save money.

SRUSD has modern kitchen facilities. About 80% of their meals are prepared at school sites.

View SRUSD Farm to School Summary
SRUSD District Website

Ventura Unified School District

Ventura Unified School District has 18,000 students in 17 elementary schools, 4 middle schools, and 4 high schools. Annually, approximately 821,000 breakfasts, 1,457,000 lunches, and 49,000 snacks are served within the district (all reimbursable).

Eight district schools qualify as Title 1 schools. Overall throughout the district, 40% of the school population is eligible for free or reduced price lunch. 

Meals are cooked from scratch or speed scratch.  Most schools prepare their own meals, with the central kitchen supplying the remainder.

For the majority of fruits and vegetables, if it’s not seasonal and local, then it’s not served.  Produce is sourced from a distributor named “The Berry Man” or directly from local farmers.

Beautiful calendars containing student art, nutrition information, and the year’s menus are printed and distributed to all students each September.

View VUSD Farm to School Summary
VUSD Child Nutrition Services Website  Check out their 28 page annual elementary menu.
Here are some additional resources that have been developed for use at VUSD Healthy Schools Program:
  • Healthy Schools Program Flier
  • School Garden Input Standards 
  • Healthy Garden Pledge 
  • Procedures for using Garden Veggies in the Cafeteria
  • Year Round Lesson/Veggie Planning Matrix

Fort Bragg Unified School District

1900 students in 7 schools (3 elementary, 2 middle, 2 high school). 1435 meals served daily, 579 at breakfast and  856 at lunch.

68% free and reduced meal eligibility rate for district.

Food prep takes place at each school site.  The kitchen staff are very supportive and excited about using the food from the school gardens.

Because of remoteness of the district and lack of local produce growers they rely mostly on a broadliner and a produce distributor with only 2% from local sources. Nutrition Services purchases produce from well developed school and community garden programs. Additionally they purchase and serve snacks of organic produce through the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program.

Numerous coordinated collaborators for web of support. These are school teachers, FFVP, Network for Healthy California educators, after-school programs, ROP classes in horticulture, local non-profits, parent groups, county school offices, supportive school board, and master gardeners.

View FBUSD Farm to School Summary
FBUSD Nutrition Services Department Website

Oakland Unified School District

OUSD serves approximately 37,000 students at 65 elementary schools, 17 middle schools, four special programs, 14 high schools, and 11 alternative education schools. OUSD manages 91 kitchens and offers lunch at all schools, breakfast at 94 schools, and after school snack at 75 schools. At these schools approximately 6,500 breakfasts, 27,000 lunches, and 10,000 snacks are served each day.

68% of the district’s student population is eligible for free or reduced priced meals and 87 school sites have 50% of more of their students eligible for free or reduced price meals.

Ten elementary schools are piloting “Cooking Kitchen” menus, where more scratch cooking is taking place.

Multiple community partners are working to provide nutrition education and increase availability of fresh fruits and vegetables. School site farmers markets, a district wide school garden program, Harvest of the Month, and a “Oakland Eats Garden Fresh” program are a few examples of these efforts.

The following is a sampling of the steps OUSD has taken to increase wellness at their school sites:

  • Offer fresh fruit or vegetable at every breakfast and lunch
  • Added meatless Monday to diversify the menu
  • Chocolate milk is only served once a week
  • Stopped serving whole fat cheeses
  • Replaced all Gatorades and fruit drinks with 100% fruit juices. Juice is only offered three days a week in elementary sites
  • Enlist parent volunteers to assist the preparation of fresh fruits and vegetables and scratch cooking

View OUSD Farm to School Summary
OUSD Nutrition Services has one of the most informative and updated School Nutrition Services websites around. Check it out here or go straight to the informative pages below:

There are close to 60 school gardens operating in Oakland Unified School District. View a map of 43 of them.

Santa Cruz City Schools

SCCS has 13,000 students in 2 high schools, 2 middle schools and 4 elementary schools serving 1,700 lunches and 800 breakfasts per day. Second chance breakfast is offered at 10:00.

47% of the district is eligible for free and reduced meals.

SCCS scratch cooks in a central kitchen and packs out to school sites for reheating and serving. They make use of commodity items to cook with and practice "stealth health", incorporating fruits and vegetables in many recipes.

SCCS works with a local organic distributor, ALBA organics, and purchases about 70% of their produce from local farms.

SCCS has a strong school gardening program. All four elementary schools have garden coordinators paid by an education parcel tax and the two high schools are starting garden programs. Two elementary schools have nutrition educators funded by the Network for A Healthy California.

Santa Cruz City Schools Farm to School Summary

Santa Cruz City School Food Service Website
 "Surf City Cafe"
Download Publisher File of Annual Elementary Menu Calendar (136MB)

Paso Robles Joint Unified School District

The Culinary Arts Academy (CAA) at Paso Robles Joint Unified School District serves 1380 breakfast and 2510 school lunches per day as well as running culinary training classes for high school and college students.

Additionally the CAA runs a restaurant open to the public, catering business, and other outside contracts.

All schools have salad bars and at times CAA purchases directly from farmers at the local farmers markets.

CAA has created healthy alternatives to many of the students’ favorite menu items. For example they have formulated a ranch dressing with 40% less fat and a pizza crust made from scratch with garbanzo bean flour.

Exemplary school garden programs help make the farm to fork connection by incorporating garden produce into school food.

View PRJUSD Farm to School Summary
Paso Robles Culinary Arts Academy

View Bon Appetite: A Recipe for Success by Michael Landrum. Another video from a few years back on the Paso Robles High School Culinary Arts Program.

Sonoma Valley Unified School District

SVUSD serves approximately 1,215 breakfasts and 2,100 lunches per day to 4,310 students in eight schools. Five of the schools have populations where 50% of their students are eligible for free and reduced price meals. 57% of the total population is eligible for free and reduced priced meals.

SVUSD provides free fruit in all elementary school sites.

A Harvest of the Month program is ran by their food service director. Produce sampling baskets are distributed to all elementary school sites and Harvest of the Month is featured in the menu.

School gardens are present in all school sites which benefit from district wide garden support staff. The local education foundation and other community partners help fund the garden projects.

SVUSD has kitchen facilities at school sites where meal production takes place. Salad bars operate in two of their school sites with plans for expansion.

View SVUSD Nutrition Services Program Summary
SVUSD Nutrition Services Website
Community Support for Garden Programs

Turlock Unified School District

TUSD serves 13,200 K-12 students at 14 school sites. The district has a free and reduced price meal eligibility rate of 64%.

8% of TUSD’s budget ($500,000) is used for marketing and nutrition education efforts. A communication marketing assistant and two part-time teachers promote nutrition education and school food. These efforts, along with the “real.fresh.” branding, has led to over a million dollars of increased revenue and a close to a tripling of total student meal participation.

Produce bars are available at all schools in the district (packaged and self serve). Whole fruits, fresh vegetables are planned and served daily.

The USDA Fruits and Vegetables Galore tool kit is utilized as a training manual for staff at sites. Fruits and Vegetables Galore images, logo, and branding are also used for marketing purposes.

TUSD designates a 90 Mile area for local and 500 miles for regional. The majority of fresh produce (40%) is purchased through the DOD program. 25% of produce is purchased though a local cooperative bid. A local produce company and local farmers round out TUSD’s produce purchasing.

View TUSD Child Nutrition Program Summary

View TUSD  Child Nutrition Department Website