Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, child care centers can serve produce from their garden. It can be used for classroom taste tests or as part of the meals and/or snacks provided by a center.
Yes, produce from the child care garden can be used as components in the meals and snacks served to the children, as long as the minimum serving sizes are provided. Serving fresh vegetables at snack, using fresh tomatoes to make spaghetti sauce, or making fruit smoothies for breakfast are great ways to add garden produce to the child care menu.
Just as produce from the child care garden can be served in the center, so too can produce purchased directly from a local farm or produce stand. For child care programs unable to establish a garden on-site, purchasing produce from a farmer is a great alternative. This produce will likely be fresher and may present a cost savings to child care programs.
Many perishable fruits and vegetables, such as strawberries, lettuce, and herbs, are best maintained when stored in a clean refrigerator at a temperature of 40 degrees or below. Fresh fruit and vegetables that don’t have to be refrigerated can be stored at room temperature, in a storage area that is cool, dry, pest-free and well-ventilated.
The most important step in maintaining food safety is hand-washing. All staff and children should wash their hands with soap and water after working in the garden, before prepping and serving foods, and before eating. Also, damaged or bruised areas on fresh fruits and vegetables should be cut away before preparing or eating. Any obvious rotten produce should be discarded.
Schools can use the produce for taste tests, but if it will be served as part of the National School Lunch Reimbursable Meal, consult the SC Department of Education Coordinator for more information on the procurement process.
Produce can be purchased from a variety of sources, whether directly from a farmer, farmers market, roadside stand, etc. or indirectly through a food distribution company.
No, GAP certification is not a requirement, but it is strongly suggested. If you are purchasing directly from a farmer, ask about food safety practices and take a tour of the farm. Also make sure they have liability insurance and ask how much they have. If you still have questions, contact Farm to School Coordinators.
Yes! The South Carolina Department of Agriculture offers a GAP program to help offset the cost of GAP certification and to prepare the farmer for audits.
No, fresh produce must be washed before it is eaten. Even if you are planning on cutting or peeling the produce, it is still important to wash it first. Consult the SC Farm to School Food Safety Guide for more information and further resources.