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Serving School Garden Produce in the Cafeteria

A legal memo about applicable federal and state laws

Legal Memo
Child Care & Schools
Food & Beverages

As school gardens grow across the country, school officials, food service directors, parents, and community members have raised questions about whether school garden produce may be served in school meals.

The good news is that nothing in federal law prohibits schools from feeding students the produce they have grown; in fact, federal policy encourages schools to cultivate gardens and incorporate the produce into school meals. Similarly, no state expressly forbids school garden-to-cafeteria programs, and several states have enacted laws that specifically address serving school garden produce in school cafeterias.

Serving School Garden Produce in the Cafeteria explains how the National School Lunch Act, the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, and state education and food codes should be taken into consideration when exploring the feasibility of a garden-to-cafeteria program.