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SNAP-Ed Partnerships bring School Farm-to-School Meals

November 19, 2018 | California

Nov 19, 2018

The Challenge

San Pedro Elementary School in the San Rafael City Schools District did not include many fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables in school meals.

garden pictures

The Solution

From 2015-2017, SNAP-Ed partners in Marin County developed a School Farm-to-Cafeteria Program. The program provides fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs to San Rafael school cafeterias. The program met important needs in the community, including the following:

  • Leadership: Marin County’s Nutrition Wellness Program led the project, brought in new members, oversaw meetings, and invited funders to support the effort.
  • Leveraging Local Resources: The San Rafael City Schools District donated land for the school farm at San Pedro Elementary School. The Marin County Office of Education and Kaiser Permanente financed the program.
  • Logistics: San Rafael food service directors formed a Procurement Team to plan fruit and vegetables purchases and deliveries.
  • Local Partnerships: Sanzuma, a local non-profit, was contracted with to create the school farm. They also conduct garden nutrition education and a school needs assessment. Program staff found that working with different agencies was both exciting and challenging. Each partner needed to understand each other’s roles, guiding principles, priorities, and regulations in order to design a School Farm-to-Cafeteria Program that worked well and could continue to work in the future.

The Results

By 2016, the San Pedro Elementary School farm provided fresh fruits and vegetables for local school cafeterias. The farm grew more than 1,150 pounds of:

  • tomatoes
  • mixed greens
  • lemon cucumbers 
  • zucchini 
  • edible nasturtium blossoms 
  • radishes
  • carrots
  • kale 
  • berries 
  • lemons
  • limes
  • potatoes
  • peppers

In 2017, the school farm contributed to 36 cafeterias. Lunches were served to 1,284 low-income elementary students at four schools.

Sustaining Success

The School Farm-to-Cafeteria Program has a built-in sustainability plan through the sale of produce to the San Rafael City Schools District. The program is on track to be self-sustaining in the next few years.

The San Rafael City Schools District donated a larger plot of land to grow even more fruits and vegetables, showing its commitment to providing locally grown fruits and vegetables for its students. The Procurement Team is working to build more local and regional partnerships that will strengthen the program.

Marin County’s Nutrition Wellness Program continues to provide nutrition and physical activity education in low-income San Rafael schools. This complements and supports the School Farm-to-Cafeteria Program.

Stories from the Field

The California Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) aims to inspire and empower under-served Californians to improve their health and the health of their communities through healthy eating and active living. The program facilitates this through education and community change in partnership with many others.

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) shares this story to highlight a snapshot of some of the California SNAP-Ed work conducted by local health departments and partners across this Golden State.


CDPH funds local health departments, 57 county and three city health departments, to conduct SNAP-funded obesity prevention programming across the state. The UC CalFresh Nutrition Education Program, California Department of Aging, and Catholic Charities of California, Inc. also fund local agencies to conduct programs that align with the California SNAP-Ed mission. The California Department of Social Services oversees the collective California SNAP-Ed work.

Expanding our Reach

We hope these community stories inspire you to envision how to create a healthier tomorrow!

This article was submitted by the Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention Branch of the California Department of Public Health. For more information please contact Samantha Trammell.