Garden to Café
AISD is taking an important leadership role in the school garden movement by partnering with students, community members, teachers and administrators to develop a Garden to Café program that extends the lessons learned in the garden to the school café. Garden to Café is about serving healthy, fresh, garden-grown foods to students through school meal programs.
The AISD Garden to Café Program provides guidelines for schools to help gain approval to serve produce that is grown on campus. Schools requesting this approval will be required to designate a Garden Leader, who will follow the necessary standards and protocols to ensure the garden meets health regulations.
Ensuring the safety of the food supply is critical to student health. School and retail food facilities regulated under the Texas Food Establishment Rules are required to obtain their food from an approved source. Schools requesting to serve food grown in their gardens in the café will be subject to evaluation as outlined in the AISD School Garden to Café Conditions for Use of Garden-Grown Produce in School Kitchens.
Gardens will be reviewed on:
- Water quality
- Protection from contamination
- Sanitary practices
- Harvesting procedures
Campuses requesting to participate in the Garden to Café program can begin the process by submitting the following document:
Please allow 1-2 weeks for processing and approval.
Learn more ways to use school garden-grown foods in the Austin Area School Garden Collaborative Harvest Guide. The guide provides schools with alternative options to Garden to Café.
- AISD operates a fleet of food trucks that act as mobile innovation stations, providing students with healthy, tasty and sustainable foods, different from what is offered in the school cafe.
- While the food truck program has paused for the 2020-21 school year, during a typical year, the Nacho Average and Food 4 Thought food trucks rotate among AISD high school campuses each day. Elementary and middle school administration may request a food truck lunch visit.
- Both food trucks serve reimbursable meals. Students dine at the trucks using their student meal account (free/reduced-price/paid) just as they would in the cafe.
- The expansion of AISD's food truck program is through support from Life Time Foundation, Whole Kids Foundation, Google and Austin Food & Wine Alliance.
- For information about food truck catering opportunities please contact Diane Grodek or Amanda Gilroy at email@example.com.
No matter where or how meals are served, AISD is committed to providing foods with the highest quality ingredients. AISD began implementing a clean label initiative in 2015, then partnered with the Life Time Foundation through 2019 to eliminate what the Foundation identified as “The Harmful 7”. Continuing the commitment to quality, AISD has since transitioned to the clean label standards outlined in the “Ingredient Guide for Better School Food Purchasing” by School Food Focus.
Local and Sustainable Purchasing
AISD makes it easy for students to eat locally and sustainably. School menus regularly feature local foods such as New World Bakery bread, Fiesta Tortillas, Johnson’s Backyard Garden organic vegetables and pasture-raised beef from Augustus Ranch.
AISD was the first district in Texas to adopt the Good Food Purchasing Program (GFPP). The goal of the GFPP is to improve regional food systems by utilizing meaningful purchasing standards in five key categories:
- Local economies
- Environmental sustainability
- Valued workforce
- Animal welfare