Garden to Cafeteria

Denver Public Schools’ (DPS) Food and Nutrition Services department strives to provide healthy food and nutrition education so all students will have the opportunity for success in the classroom, in their daily lives and to set the foundation for healthy lifestyles as they grow and mature. For years, Slow Food Denver (SFD), Denver Urban Gardens (DUG), Learning Landscapes (LL) and the Kitchen Community have been collaborating on DPS grounds to establish school/community gardens and associated education programs. This Denver School Garden Coalition has manifested itself at dozens of DPS elementary schools, and has sought to serve the unique set of needs and circumstances within each school community, with the primary focus on student education and enrichment.

The Garden to Cafeteria (GTC) program is a unique opportunity for DPS students to grow fresh vegetables in their school gardens with the aim of supplying some of their harvest to the school cafeterias to be used at lunch service. We are beginning our 12th season of the Garden to Cafeteria program.  The last full year of operation in 2019-20, schools sold over 900 pounds of vegetables to Food and Nutrition Services and was served on the local fruit/vegetable bar at that school.

Protocols have been put in place to assure the food safety of the vegetables harvested from the school gardens by students. Safety protocols have been adapted from Federal and State guidelines for Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and Good Handling Practices (GHP) with the help of the Denver Health Department.

Eleven schools participated in the Garden to Cafeteria program in 2019-20 and we would be thrilled to have more schools participate in the current year. The following produce was harvested and given to the school kitchens to be served on the salad bars at lunch: broccoli, cabbage, carrots, concord grapes, cucumbers, green beans, herbs (basil, parsley), jalapenos, kale, lettuce, onions, peppers, squash, tomatoes, watermelon.

How to Participate

  1. Fill out the Google Form DPS Garden to Cafeteria Program Registration, Follow directions to complete appropriate sections. 

  2. Once the form has been submitted, Adam Fisher will  send you a link to complete an on-line training.

  3. Adam will provide you GTC protocols and harvest records

  4. Check in with your school’s Kitchen Manager to discuss harvest dates and the approximate quantity of produce you will provide.

Note: Kitchen Managers are not permitted to use garden produce until adults harvesting with students in the school garden have been trained on the protocols.

Adam Fisher


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