AGC & CPS “Eat What You Grow” School Garden Food Safety Program to Scale Nationally

AGC & CPS “Eat What You Grow” School Garden Food Safety Program to Scale Nationally

A few years ago, this lunch would have been illegal.


This delicious organic elementary school lunch of tofu (or chicken) with BBQ sauce scratch made by our dear Chef Eddie, paired with a green salad and cucumber-tomato-basil side, features basil grown in our edible schoolyard garden. This was the first meal served in our cafeteria to feature produce grown in our garden although we have been growing our own food since 2008.

Until December of 2012, schools with edible gardens that were also receiving federal school lunch funds, including AGC and 400 other CPS schools, were restricted from serving the fruits of their labors to students at lunch. The organic heirloom tomatoes, peppers, herbs and greens, among other treats banned from our cafeteria, were sent home with parents, given to community members, sold at our Schoolyard Market.

When Dan Schnitzer, then AGC’s Director of Sustainability, now serving as the Director of Sustainability for the Chapel Hill-Carrboro School District, asked why, he was told that there was no official process or manual for maintaining school-garden food safety… so he wrote one.

Years later, thanks to support of Chicago Public Schools and help from Chicago Botanic Gardens and Family Farmed, the first school garden food safety manual, “Eat What You Grow” was born and AGC offered our first training to 5 Chicago Public Schools.

We are delighted to announce that after a year of piloting in 8 schools, CPS has approved this program to expand to all CPS schools. Local and national organizations, including the Farm to School Network and Food Corps, are jumping on board to push this program to scale across the city and country.

Alongside our Sustainability Schools Handbook, open-house tours and national outreach, the success of this program is a great step forward in our work to create scalable innovations that will positively impact 20 million students by 2020.

Read about the impact of this program on CPS schools in this Northwestern Medill Report.

One thought on “AGC & CPS “Eat What You Grow” School Garden Food Safety Program to Scale Nationally

  1. Reblogged this on Dexter Farm to School and commented:
    We learned about the many success of Chicago Public Schools’ Farm to School and School Gardening projects at the Good Food Festival this weekend. It is so exciting to hear from others in our region making HUGE strides in the effort to connect students with where their food comes from, helping them forming life-long healthy relationships with food and agriculture. Way to go CPS! We hope to look like you someday!

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