Food & Nature

The District aims to provide students with nature-based learning, access to nutritious, sustainably-sourced food, and knowledge about sustainable food systems. Taken together, these efforts improve the health of our students, along with social, emotional, and academic outcomes. They also cultivate an appreciation for the environment in our next generation.

To advance these goals, Austin ISD:

  • Signed the pledge to support the Austin Children's Outdoor Bill of Rights, which was passed by the City Council in 2017.
  • Made the addition of "Outdoor Learning" in the revised Educational Specifications so that outdoor spaces will be deliberately designed to support learning activities at our schools.
  • Planted approximately 120 gardens at Austin ISD schools, many of which are Wildlife Habitat Certified by the National Wildlife Federation for monarchs, birds, and other native wildlife.
  • Collaborates in the Cities Connecting Children to Nature, program to create Green School Parks.
  • Is aligning district curriculum across all core subjects with lessons that can be performed outside.
  • Maintains a rich and varied tree canopy that includes some of Austin's most notable Heritage Trees. The AISD Forester ensures that our trees stay healthy and safe, and that they are able to thrive and grow as valuable assets to our schools and community.
  • Partners with local organizations to support school reforestation efforts.
  • Provides hands-on teacher professional development and field trips to Discovery Hill, the District's demonstration habitat garden.
  • Provides the AISD Garden to Café program with guidelines for campuses to safely serve school garden-grown foods in the cafeteria.
  • Participates in the Good Food Purchasing Program whose aim is to transform the way public institutions purchase food by creating a transparent and equitable food system build on five core values: local economies, health, valued workforce, animal welfare and environmental sustainability.

Partner Resources

Sustainable Food Center (SFC) cultivates a healthy community by strengthening the local food system and increasing access to nutritious, affordable food. Through classes and trainings for home, school, and community gardens; farmers’ markets, farm stands, and other outlets for local producers; and cooking and nutrition classes, children and adults have increased access to fresh, local food and are empowered to improve the long-term health of Central Texans and our environment. SFC’s Grow Local program offers consultation and trainings on how to start, use, and sustain school and community gardens, food gardening and beekeeping classes, free gardening resources for low-income residents and schools, and field trips to the SFC Teaching Garden. See resources for school garden training and support.

The The National Wildlife Federation works with AISD schools to create Schoolyard Habitats® that restore wildlife habitat on school grounds while providing outdoor classrooms for learning across the curriculum. Schools can further their sustainability journey by becoming a certified EcoSchool!

PEAS provides knowledgeable educators to deliver TEKS aligned science lessons at your school with a secondary focus on health or environmental science.

The Austin Area School Garden Collaborative is a coalition of individuals and organizations with an interest in helping schools create, sustain, promote, and utilize onsite edible and habitat gardens by compiling useful resources and mobilizing collective action. Their website has info on how to start, maintain, and teach with schoolyard garden projects.

The Children and Nature Network (C&NN) is a non-profit organization that seeks to integrate nature into the lives and education of children: their vision is to create “A world in which all children play, learn and grow with nature in their everyday lives.” Among other initiatives, the C&NN assists cities and schools to establish Green Schoolyards, spaces in which children can engage with nature, play, and learn.

The Whole Kids Foundation is dedicated to helping kids eat better - and enjoy it! It is a non profit 501(c)(3) founded by Whole Foods Market and provides schools with salad bars through a partnership with Salad Bars to Schools, provides grants for school gardens, and offer cooking and nutrition education for school teachers and staff.