School Nutrition Alignment Team



In Nashville, 72.4% of students - around 56,700 - live at or below the federal poverty line and are food insecure.

Many of these students will receive most or all of their day’s caloric intake from school meals, making it vitally important to ensure that those meals are as nutritionally dense as they can be. MNPS Nutrition Services, with support from the Alignment Nashville School Nutrition Team, has worked hard over the last 3 years to implement whole-food scratch cooking in MNPS cafeterias through the Healthier Cafés initiative, and is now collaborating with key stakeholders on Farm To School—an initiative to get wholesome, farm-fresh produce into school kitchens and onto the plates of students who need it most.


Through collaboration with Community Food Advocates, Tennessee Department of Agriculture and Tennessee Department of Education, Nashville Farmers’ Market and others, the School Nutrition A-Team and MNPS has been working over the last year to develop a two-pronged tactical plan around healthy eating, local sourcing, and food/agriculture education:



Work with local farms (within 250-mile radius), extension offices, and other agricultural stakeholders to build partnerships and farm capacity to provide local produce to Metro Nashville Public Schools



Work with educators, partner farms, and other agricultural/educational stakeholders to develop engaging educational content to work in tandem with the fresh produce being served in MNPS cafeterias

The A-Team began work on its procurement tactic by conducting several audits of MNPS’ café menus to determine frequently-used and easy-to-source produce items. Strawberries were chosen as the key product for the first pilot to take place in spring of 2015, and the team then selected five schools from the original list of Healthier Café pilot schools to potentially receive local berries: Rosebank, Park Avenue, Cole, Glengarry, and Glenview Elementary Schools. 

The A-Team also worked with MNPS principals to gauge interest and capacity for a possible Farm To School educational component, via the release of a survey in summer 2015. The survey yielded valuable information from administrators about what their school schedules can accommodate and what kinds of educational pieces may be of value to their students, including farmer visits, field trips, educational materials for teachers, school gardens, and more.


 The School Nutrition A-Team released an Invitation To Participate/Request For Information (RFI) to gather information from local farms about capacity for production, processing, and delivery of 2 to 3 weeks’ worth of fresh strawberries for the five elementary pilot schools. The ITP/RFI received one response from West Nashville organic farm Green Door Gourmet, who was able to work with MNPS Nutrition Services to sign a contract for a small pilot bid.  Green Door Gourmet picked and prepared 60 flats—around 160 quarts—of fresh, organic strawberries and delivered them straight to the five pilot schools over a 3-week period during the spring of 2015.




 Children's Health and Wellness


2015-16 school year:

  • At least 5 schools receive produce of any kind from within 250 miles of school
  • Different local fruit or vegetable is offered at least 5 times during academic year

2016-17 school year:

  • 15 schools receive produce of any kind from within 250 miles of school
  • Different local fruit or vegetable is offered at least 5 times during academic year


5 elementary schools receive produce from within 250 miles of school during spring season


RFI is released to collect information from regional farmers regarding capacity for production, processing, and delivery of produce

At least 1 farm is engaged through RFI to provide produce for spring season to 5 schools


The School Nutrition A-Team released a short survey to the five pilot school principals shortly after the strawberries pilot to measure reception of the first round of produce. Administrators reported positive reactions overall from students, and excitement from café staff. Staff were enthusiastic about processing and serving the berries, knowing they grew and were harvested nearby.

With one successful pilot run of strawberry procurement and delivery under its belt, the School Nutrition A-Team is confident about moving forward with a new run of produce for the pilot schools.


  • The Spring 2015 strawberries pilot first began picking up media attention in May of 2015. The Tennessean profiled the pilot first, and local stations WKRN and WSMV then followed suit over the next few days. Nearly 30 other local news stations around the country then picked up the story during the next week, in cities as far away as Hartford, CT, Saginaw, MI, Lubbock, TX, and New Orleans.
  • In September 2015, FOX 17 News learned of Farm To School pilot of Fall 2015 via our ITPTM process and aired a story on it, including interviews with School Nutrition Team Chair Jackie Contreras as well as owner of Green Door Gourmet organic farm Sylvia Ganier. The story gave background on the initiative, detailing the spring strawberries procurement project. 
  • Farm To School Fall 2015 and the School Nutrition A-Team were also highlighted in the October 2015 issue of Nashville Lifestyles magazine in an article titled “Edible Schoolyard.” MNPS head chef Rebecca Polson was profiled. 


 The A-Team is continuing its work on Tactic 1: Procurement by releasing a second ITP/RFI for fall produce—including turnip greens, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, apples, bell peppers, and more—and plans to put out an additional ITP/RFI for a selection of spring produce (to be determined) in 2016. 

The team is also working hard on the development of an educational component to this initiative for Tactic 2: Education, based on the valuable survey data received from principals about Farm to School Education capacity and interest during the summer of 2015. The team plans to release an ITP in 2016 to gather resources, build partnerships, and assist schools in providing education to students on agriculture, food, and healthy eating, to go hand-in-hand with the nutritious local food we hope to have on students’ school lunch trays.

The team’s most recent success came in November 2015 when MNPS was awarded a Farm To School planning grant for $38,682 from the US Department of Agriculture. MNPS and the School Nutrition A-Team will use the grant monies to expand the work they’ve already been doing – forging and strengthening relationships with more local farmers, aligning food education resources and partnerships, and developing a sustainable model for district-wide Farm To School implementation.


Jackie Contreras, Chair, Nashville Farmers’ Market

Spencer Taylor, Vice Chair, MNPS Nutrition Services Office

Abigail Brezinka, Metro Nashville Public Schools (student)

Fred Carr, Metro Nashville Public Schools

Ebone Colclough, University of Tennessee Agricultural Extension Service

Kate Compton, Green Door Gourmet

David Cook, University of Tennessee Extension

Braina Corke, Metro Nashville Public Schools

Jane Crawford, Tennessee Department of Education

Karissa Deiter, Community Food Advocates

Susan Evans, MNPS Coordinated School Health

Katie Fell, MNPS Parent

Sylvia Ganier, Green Door Gourmet

Dan Harrell, Metro Nashville Extension Office

Phyllis Hodges, Tennessee Department of Education

Johnsie Holt, MNPS Coordinated School Health

Dianne Killebrew, Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Holly Ladd, Nashwell Health Coaching

Rebecca Polson, Metro Nashville Public Schools

Amy Roth, Children’s Author

Linda Shelton, Tennessee Department of Agriculture

Lisa Shively, Local Table Magazine

Deborah Walker, MNPS Nutrition Services

Jennifer Westerholm, Urban Green Lab

Laura Wilson, Nashville Grown


MNPS Nutrition Services Office

Community Food Advocates

Nashville Farmers’ Market

Green Door Gourmet


For more information, contact Lexi Morritt, Associate Director.