December 2016
Gardens: A Place to Eat and Learn

Texas gardens are like snowflakes - no two are the same. This is partly due to the different climates throughout our great state and the variety of goals each garden is helping achieve. One thing remains consistent: they need pollinators. And we're not just talking about bees. Pollinators include beetles, butterflies, bats, birds and other insects.

Learning about pollinators is important for students and adults because they illustrate ecology in motion. One sign of a healthy and thriving garden is an abundance of different pollinators living there.

Pollinators can vary from region to region and there are many resources to help gardeners learn how to plant a garden that attracts their region's common pollinators. This interactive map from the Pollinator Partnership provides an overview of each ecoregion and includes a regionally specific planting guide.

Visit the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension website to learn about the pollinators native to your region of Texas, the challenges pollinators currently face, and how you can support efforts to increase the number of pollinators.
Farm Fresh Spotlights
Digging in: How the Department of Defense (DoD) helps Connect Farms to Schools

What do the military's logistical network, Texas-grown watermelon and red potatoes, and school children have in common? The first (DoD Fresh Program) delivers the second and third (Texas grown fruits and vegetables) to the fourth (Texas schools) through a unique partnership between the Department of Defense (DoD) and USDA.


Three Food Distribution Programs (FDP) are available to help schools maximize food service funds and order Texas products:

-   USDA Foods

-   DoD Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (DoD Fresh)

-   DoD Farm to School Program


Participation in FDP offers schools and other organizations the ability to use entitlement dollars to order USDA-purchased food including fruits, vegetables, meat, dry beans and whole grains.


Download TDA's brochure to learn how each of these programs can support schools' efforts to increase the amount of local food featured on cafeteria menus.

Farm to Child Care Spotlight

USDA Farm to School Grant Open to School-Based Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) Participants

USDA Farm to School grants are available and accepting applications from all CACFP participants that operate within a school setting. Up to $5 million in grant funds are available to further efforts to increase locally sourced foods in our children's meals.


Five steps to learn more about USDA Farm to School grants:

1.     Explore USDA's grant program website

2.     Read the request for application

3.     Study the frequently asked questions and sample documents from past grantees.

4.     Discover past grantee projects by reading the grant award summaries and FY13-16 Summary of Grant Awards Summary.

5.     Reach out to USDA with any questions at


The deadline to submit an application is Dec. 8, 2016.
Farm to Summer Spotlight

Is Your Site on TDA's Map?


Are you a Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) or Seamless Summer Option (SSO) participant that is buying local foods for program meals and snacks, or providing agricultural educational opportunities for children at your sites? This includes Meet the Farmer Day, taste testing local products and garden-based activities. If so, visit TDA's Map of Farm Fresh Activities to make sure your success is highlighted.


If your program is not currently featured on the map, TDA would like to hear about your Farm to School efforts. Connect with us at to share how you helped to connect children to Texas agriculture this summer season.

Contact TDA
Alyssa Herold
Coordinator for Farm Fresh Initiatives
Emilee Feldhausen
Farm Fresh Specialist

Email us or call
(877) TEX-MEAL
Connect with Others
Texas Statewide Network
This LinkedIn Group is an online network connecting schools, child and adult care centers, producers, support organizations and community members with important information about expanding local food efforts in Texas.
Join Today!

Texas Farm Fresh Network
Use this tool to connect with Texas food companies that currently sell or are interested in selling to schools, child care centers and summer meal programs. Company listings include contact information, product availability and distribution radius.
Funding Opportunities
Financial support from organizations may help establish or advance local Farm Fresh initiatives.
Go here  for a list of opportunities from TDA, USDA and other organizations.