Frequently Asked Questions
Can produce grown in the child care garden be served in the center?
Yes, child care centers can serve produce from their garden. It can be used for classroom taste tests or as part of the meals and/or snacks provided by a center.
Can garden produce be used to meet Child and Adult Care Food Program meal and snack requirements?
Yes, produce from the child care garden can be used as components in the meals and snacks served to the children, as long as the minimum serving sizes are provided. Serving fresh vegetables at snack, using fresh tomatoes to make spaghetti sauce, or making fruit smoothies for breakfast are great ways to add garden produce to the child care menu.
What about produce purchased directly from a local farm or produce stand?
Just as produce from the child care garden can be served in the center, so too can produce purchased directly from a local farm or produce stand. For child care programs unable to establish a garden on-site, purchasing produce from a farmer is a great alternative. This produce will likely be fresher and may present a cost savings to child care programs.
As long as the produce is free of dirt, can the children eat it straight from the garden?
No, fresh produce must be washed before it is eaten. A thorough washing under running water is sufficient. Even if you are planning on cutting or peeling the produce, it is still important to wash it first.
How should produce be stored?
Many perishable fruits and vegetables, such as strawberries, lettuce, and herbs, are best maintained when stored in a clean refrigerator at a temperature of 40 degrees or below. Fresh fruit and vegetables that don’t have to be refrigerated can be stored at room temperature, in a storage area that is cool, dry, pest-free and well-ventilated.
What should be done before preparing and serving produce?
The most important step in maintaining food safety is hand-washing. All staff and children should wash their hands with soap and water after working in the garden, before prepping and serving foods, and before eating. Also, damaged or bruised areas on fresh fruits and vegetables should be cut away before preparing or eating. Any obvious rotten produce should be discarded.