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Food safety for farm to school programs

Minnesota school districts and farmers help improve the health and education of Minnesota school children. These tools and resources will help ensure healthy and safe foods are available in cafeterias across the state.

Extension's On-Farm GAPs education program provides education, outreach and technical support to fruit and vegetable growers through Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) workshops and mock audits. It also provides research, communication, and collaboration opportunities to help promote information-sharing regarding GAPs and farm safety.

  • Talk with your produce farmer about food safety  — Many institutions and businesses purchase produce directly from nearby farmers. We've created a list of questions about on-farm food safety practices that food service workers can ask farmers when considering buying fresh fruits and vegetables directly from a farm.
  • Watch a webinar to learn more about food safety when buying local produce — The video and short survey is helpful for buyers at schools, hospitals and other institutions.
    • Shows on-farm practices that growers should use to keep their produce safe.
    • Includes information on GAP audits, food safety plans and the Produce Safety Rule.
    • Demonstrates how to talk with local growers about food safety before purchasing.

MISA Publications Catalog,  Minnesota Institute of Sustainable Agriculture — Three publications in this catalog are of special interest:

  • Local Food Fact Sheet Series includes the "Selling Minnesota" fact sheets written for Minnesota farmers and links to four related fact sheets from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.
  • Pack Shed Rules: Harvest Crew Handbook will help you understand post-harvest handling concepts such as food safety and the 4 W’s: Workers, Waste, Water and Wildlife.
  • Harvest-to-Sale Vegetable Handling helps growers understand how to get produce from the field to the point of sale at the highest quality.

Legal Issues Impacting Farm to School and School Garden Programs in Minnesota (PDF), Public Health Law Center at Mitchel Hamline School of Law, provides an overview of the key legal issues involved in farm to school and school garden programs in Minnesota.

Related resources

New Farmers, United States Department of Agriculture, is an online portal that provides assistance to beginning farmers and ranchers. The portal includes links to training, financing, technical assistance, and other support services.

Wholesale Success: A Farmer’s Guide to Selling, Post Harvest Handling, and Packing Produce, FamilyFarmed.org — This 316-page book is the definitive training source on selling into wholesale markets. It includes topics such as Cleaning, Drying, and Curing Produce; Traceability; Packing Shed Design; and Maintaining the Cold Chain. Single manuals are $70 + $10 shipping and handling.

Reviewed in 2020

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