Classroom & Cafeteria

Connect Classroom & Cafeteria to Your Curriculum

  • Click Here for a Cooking with Class activity to engage your students in sampling and preparing fresh garden produce in the classroom.



Using the produce in the cafeteria and classroom

If the majority of the produce will be consumed by the students at the school, will it be through the cafeteria or for educational classroom demonstrations? If produce is going into the cafeteria, the first step is developing a good working relationship with the cafeteria supervisor. Ask questions about what and how much produce could most easily be integrated into the existing meal plans, when are the best times for delivery, if harvest and delivery take place when no staff is available, can a building key to the cafeteria be provided. Can the walk-in cooler be accessed for cool storage of perishable vegetables. It’s important to be sensitive to very busy cafeteria staff and to consider cafeteria resources, such as staff time and available equipment required for produce prep. Not making more work for cafeteria staff is important. Supplying produce that does not require much cleaning, cutting, cooking, or special knowledge will be helpful. A goal may be to replace certain items on the salad bar, such as tomatoes (cherry tomatoes do not require cutting), bell peppers, onions, carrots, radishes, and lettuce. And, of course, strawberries, if you can grow enough of them.  

Produce destined for classroom education may be used for cooking demonstrations. Salsa preparation is a popular example. For salsa, make sure to grow plenty of tomatoes, peppers, onions, and even tomatillos or corn. Salsa is a good place to start, utilizing many familiar vegetables, but maybe the goal is introducing students to new produce. More adventuresome crops such as beets, celery, peas, fennel, and kohlrabi may start good conversations about vegetables. Watermelons are a fun crop to get students enthusiastic about fresh produce, but make sure there is outdoor seating available (the garden!), as this can get messy.


Consulting your school’s food service staff on proper and safe food handling processes that you can implement before produce is brought into the kitchen is a vital practice to have in place.  The food service staff at your school is required to implement a food safety program for the preparation and service of school meals served to children. The school’s program is based on HACCP or Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point principles.  Along with this plan the Kansas State Department of Education requires that a letter signed by the garden coordinator/staff be on file in the school's food safety (HACCP) plan when garden produce is used in the school meal programs.  


Kansas State Department of Education Resources

For more information on safe handling practices, HACCP, or sample letters please see the additional resources listed below or contact Barb Depew RD, LD Child Nutrition Consultant, KS State Department of Education.

HACCP Introduction  

HACCP Overview

Best Practices for Safe Food Handling

Food Service Facts


Additional information about nutrition, origins, and fun facts for Kansas fruits and vegetables can be downloaded below. This material was developed and is provided, with permission, by Child Nutrition and Wellness, Kansas Department of Education.