Education and Outreach
Thank you for connecting your school with Minnesota farmers who grow fresh fruits and vegetables. This section provides tools and resources to help educate students, their families, and school staff about the nutritional benefits and availability of Minnesota-grown produce through USDA’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program.
The Fruit and Vegetable Snack Bites are designed to be read by teachers or students during snack time when a local fruit or vegetable is offered. The Snack Bites include information about how and where the fruit or vegetable was grown and fun facts to engage students. These short messages can also be 1) read by the principal or students at the start of the day during morning announcements, 2) used on the school menu, 3) posted to the website or 4) included in school newsletters.
For more ready to use fruit and vegetable fact sheets, recipes and activities, visit:
Tasting lessons offer students the opportunity to try a new fruit or vegetable using all their senses. Each tasting lesson will increase student exposure to locally grown fruits and vegetables and promote the consumption of fruits and vegetables at school and at home.
Repeated opportunities to taste and eat new and familiar foods are required to increase acceptance and intake. Some say that classroom and cafeteria taste testings create positive peer pressure. If your friend is willing to try the rutabaga, why wouldn’t you? Classroom and cafeteria taste tests encourage students to eat local, nutritious foods in a supportive environment.
Who can lead a taste testing? Anyone — teachers, parents, foodservice staff, students, community members and Community Nutrition Educators can all lead a taste testing.
Who are Community Nutrition Educators? Community Nutrition Educators (or CNEs) from the University of Minnesota Extension’s Simply Good Eating program teach students and families the information and skills to maintain healthy diets. CNEs partner with Minnesota schools at no cost to lead taste testings and other fun, hands-on nutrition education classes.
Sample Fruit and Vegetable Taste Testing (124 K PDF)
Teachers and educators — check out this list of worksheets and short lessons that connect food, agriculture and health for your elementary classroom. These short activities vary by subject and length.
Farm to School Educational Lessons [Research, Education, Action and Policy on Food Group REAP)
Family Newsletters help reinforce student experiences in the classroom. Students can influence their family to purchase locally grown fruits and vegetables. Family Newsletters provide helpful tips for eating more fruits and vegetables, take home challenges and an assortment of tasty, simple recipes. For additional Family Newsletters that highlight a particular fruit or vegetable, visit the Farm to School Toolkit.
Introductory Letter to Families (sample)
We all have a role to play in helping our kids learn how to make healthy choices. This section contains activities and handouts for families. While the short activities help families get their hands dirty in the soil or kitchen, the handouts provide tips to make healthy choices, easy choices.
- Close Encounters of an Agricultural Kind – Page 125
- Starting Small (Growing your own food) – Page 126
- Tips To Be Tops -Healthy Food Choices for a Healthy Diet – Page 131
- Salad Bowl – Page 145
- Taste the Colors — Together at Home…Let’s Try New Foods! – Pages 10-11
- ChooseMyPlate.gov — The Ten Tips Nutrition Education Series provides families with high quality, easy-to-follow tips in a convenient, printable format. These are perfect for posting on a refrigerator. These tips and ideas are a starting point. You will find a wealth of suggestions here that can help you and your family get started toward a healthy diet. Below are just a few of tips in the series.
- Be a Healthy Role Model for Children
- Add More Vegetables to Your Day
- Focus on Fruits
- Smart Shopping for Veggies and Fruits
- Liven up Your Meals With Vegetables and Fruits
- Kid-Friendly Veggies and Fruits
The intention of the teacher letter is to engage school staff and encourage them to be good role models for eating fruits and vegetables, especially Minnesota grown fruits and vegetables. The teacher letter also describes their role in offering fruit and vegetable snacks and offers suggestions for incorporating the fruit/vegetable snack into their daily curriculum. Consider having the school principal and food service director send the letter.
Click Poster to enlarge
New Farm to School Videos — Use these videos in your classroom or kitchen to promote the use of Minnesota Grown foods.
News Bites and Fact Sheets — Vermont FEED — Gain inspiration for your Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program. Find seasonal ideas and highlight locally grown fruits and vegetables.
Let's Move Salad Bars to School — Minnesota Department of Health