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Office of P-20 Education Policy
Child Nutrition Program Administration
89 Washington Avenue, Room 375 EBA, Albany, NY 12234
Phone: (518) 473-8781 Fax: (518) 473-0018

School Food Service Directors/Managers
Paula Tyner-Doyle, Coordinator
Tuesday, October 29, 2019
2019 USDA Farm to School Census

The Farm to School Census!


The Farm to School Census is now open! The Farm to School Census is the only national survey that examines school districts' farm to school activities, such as local food purchasing behaviors, the number and use of school gardens, and the frequency of agricultural education. The Census surveys all public (including charter schools) and private School Food Authorities (SFAs) participating in the USDA National School Lunch Program in all 50 states. 

USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) has contracted with the research firm Abt Associates to administer the 2019 Farm to School Census. 

The Census is a valuable measure of the effectiveness, scope, and reach of farm to school activities, nationwide, over time. It is important to participate in the Census, regardless of your current level of farm to school participation. A strong response rate helps ensure that USDA, states, and partners have a clear understanding of the scope of farm to school acitivities, best practices, and challenges across the country. USDA uses Census data to develop new resources, tools, and policies that strengthen and grow farm to school programs nationwide.

Why should SFAs participate in the Farm to School Census?

  • The Farm to School Census demonstrates the inovative efforts of NSLP programs to provide healthy food and nutrition education to children, while supporting American agriculture and strengthening local communities, by reinforcing local control in production and purchasing.
  • The Census allows for SFAs to report on the challenges and benefits regarding their farm to school programs.
  • USDA uses Census data to inform decisions regarding the Farm to School Grant Program, training and technical assistance strategies, and resource development. The Census data also helps USDA and States have a better understanding of the level of farm to school acitivites, best practices and challenges across the country.

How should SFAs prepare for the Census?

The 2019 Census will primarily examine farm to school activities that occurred during the 2018-2019 school year. Districts can begin preparing for the Census by organizing their local purchasing and farm to school data.

Specifically, SFAs should begin gathering data on:

  • Their definition of local
  • The grade levels that participated in farm to school activities
  • The number of schools that participated in farm to school acitivities
  • The number of schools that provided agricultural educations
  • The number of schools that had edible school gardens
  • The number of salad bars within the district
  • The number of salad bars that sevred local foods
  • The top five local foods purchased in 2018-2019
  • The total amount of money spent on food
  • The amount of moneyspent on local foods
  • The sources of local products
  • The number of full- and part-time staff dedicated to farm to school efforts

The USDA has created an optional preparation worksheet to assist SFAs in gathering farm to school data for the Census.

Census Timeline

  • September 2019 -
    • Abt Associates contacts SFAs directly via e-mail with unique links to the individual survey form.
      • Abt Associates sends up to 3 reminder emails to SFAs that have not completed the Census.
    • OCFS releases Census Resource web page mid-month!
  • October 2019 - 
    • Abt Associates sends up to 5 emails to SFAs that have not completed the Census.
    • Farm to School Month Census promotional blitz!
  • Early November 2019 - 
    • Census web data collections ends.
      • SFAs should contact Abt Associates prior to the closure of the survey about any needed corrections for egregious errors.
  • December 2019 -
    • Census data collection officially closes and SFAs receive confirmation their data was collected. 
  • Late Spring 2020 - 
    • Census Data released online.
  • 2021 - 
    • Census Report published.

Useful Links







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In accordance with federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation), disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity.

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    Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights
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    Washington, D.C. 20250-9410; or
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