Virginia’s Farm to CACFP initiative connects participants to nutrition education, Virginia grown foods, and gardening opportunities. Through these activities, CACFP participants learn about Virginia agriculture while building their knowledge of and interest in healthy foods.
Celebrate Virginia Farm to School Week October 2–6, 2023!
October is National Farm to School Month, a time to celebrate connections happening all over the country between schools, early care and adult centers, and local food! Farm to school enriches the connection communities have with fresh, healthy food and local food producers by changing food purchasing and education practices at schools and early care and education settings. Agriculture is Virginia’s largest industry, and supporting local farms increases employment opportunities and community food security while providing the freshest food for all learners.
For additional information on Virginia Farm to School initiatives, visit the VDOE-SNP Farm to School website.
Virginia Farm to School Week from October 2–6, 2023: House Joint Resolution No. 692 (2015) designates the first full week in October as Virginia Farm to School Week. School divisions and community partners can celebrate in countless ways, including with seasonal foods featured on school menus, poster contests, farm tours, standards of learning-based lessons that feature Virginia Harvest of the Month crops, and the Crunch Heard 'Round the Commonwealth.
Crunch Heard ‘Round the Commonwealth
On October 5, 2023: Virginians will make noise for farm to school programs by simultaneously taking a bite out of a fresh Virginia grown apple. To register for the event and download the free digital 2023 Crunch Toolkit and marketing materials, complete the Crunch Heard 'Round the Commonwealth Registration Form. Participants are encouraged to share their celebrations on social media and use the hashtags #VAFarmtoCACFP and #VACACFP.
New Virginia Farm to School Resources:
- Virginia Farm to School Videos: Learn more about Virginia farm to school programs with the VDOE-SNP's new Farm to School videos.
- Virginia Farm to School Seasonal Availability Calendar: Check out what's in season with the VDOE-SNP's new Seasonal Availability Calendar.
- Alternate Accessible Version: Virginia Farm to School Seasonal Availability Calendar
Funding and Learning Opportunities
Virginia Cooperative Extension's Farm to School Monthly Webinar Series: Each month, the VCE Farm to School Program team highlights a new area of farm to school. During Virginia Farm to School Week, join the team on October 3, 2023, at 2:00 p.m. to learn more about building and supporting school gardens. Additional information can be found on the webinar information page.
Virginia Agriculture in the Classroom offers grant funding to Virginia educators for a variety of creative projects to increase student understanding of the source of food and fiber inside and outside the traditional classroom. Grant applications are due October 13, 2023. Visit the Virginia Agriculture in the Classroom website for more information and to apply.
The Community Food Systems Division at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) awards annual Patrick Leahy Farm to School Grants to local school divisions and community partners. Requests for Applications for the Fiscal Year 2024 Farm to School Grants will open this fall. Refer to the USDA Farm to School Grant Program website for more information.
Exploring Fall Foods: Recipes & More!
Fall into these Seasonal Foods and Creditable Recipes!
Here at VACACFP, we are not only ready for some cooler weather but also excited about these Fall/Autumn seasonal foods. Do you have a picky eater and want to hide some vegetables in your food? In addition to smoothies being creditable in the CACFP and an easy way to get some nutrients in, try one of our favorite recipes from National CACFP, “Cheesy Broccoli Tots’’ and “Butternut Squash Souffle” from Healthy Recipes Blog. These can be a great side dish for lunch/supper or even a great snack!
From taste tests to farm visits, Farm to CACFP includes anything pertaining to Virginia agriculture, which includes food or gardening education, or eating seasonal or local food. Farm to CACFP is comprised of three elements:
Here are a few activity ideas. If you have activities that are not listed below, please share them with us!
- Taste test with local and/or seasonal foods. (different varieties of apples, different colored carrots, etc.)
- Add a local food item or dish to your menu.
- Maintain a garden.
- Nutrition education activities.
- Visit a grocery store or farm.
- Cooking or food preparation demonstrations.
- A farmer or gardener visits your center.
- Connect with a community garden for field trips or collaboration.
What’s in Season?
Click here to download a helpful chart of what’s in season in Virginia throughout the year.
Connect with Local Food
Visit Virginia Market Maker to find local producers in your area. Click on "search" to find suppliers in your specific county.
Find a Farmers’ Market through the Virginia Farmers Market Association
Connect with local food distributors that only source Virginia grown foods:
Connect with Local Partners
FeedVA’s interactive map is an excellent source for connecting with local partners.
Local VA Farm Bureau Offices have volunteer boards that conduct different activities.
Virginia Cooperative Extension can connect you educational opportunities and to Master Gardeners.
Connect to Educational Resources
- USDA’s Grow It, Try It, Like It! Educational Toolkit for Child Care Centers. Order online or email firstname.lastname@example.org for a free toolkit.
- USDA’s Grow It, Try It, Like It! Educational Toolkit for Family Day Care Homes. Order online or email email@example.com for a free toolkit.
- National Farm to School Network’s Early Care and Education resources
- Harvest for Healthy Kids Lesson Plans organized by fruit/vegetable
- Growing Minds Preschool Lesson Plans
- Virginia Department of Education - Harvest of the Month materials
- Rooted Celebrating Seasonality recipes
Promote and Celebrate Farm to CACFP
Use #VAFarmtoCACFP and #VACACFP to promote your program on social media.
We want to hear about the work you’re doing! Please click below to share your activities with us.
VA Farm to CACFP Webinar Archive:
Virginia’s Farm to CACFP initiative is strengthened by the work of partners and community members who provide their expertise via the Virginia Farm to CACFP Workgroup. If you are interested in learning more about the workgroup, please email firstname.lastname@example.org