There are four main pathways to sell local foods to schools:
- Selling directly to schools
- Selling to distributors that work with schools
- Working with the USDA Department of Defense Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (DoD Fresh)
- Becoming a USDA foods vendor
USDA provides an overview of each of these pathways on this SellingLocal to schools.pdf Georgia has farmers that sell local items to schools through each of these pathways.
There are a few additional items to consider when selling local meat to schools.
Please review this Local Meat in Schools fact sheet from USDA for an overview of how
this is successfully happening across the country.
Many school nutrition programs are probably already implementing some aspects of
Farm to School without even realizing it. Several of the items that school nutrition programs receive from distributors likely come from Georgia or a touching state at certain times of the year. Sometimes the first step is just to ask distributors to identify for you where items are coming from before you purchase them. There is not a standard definition of local.
It is up to the local school nutrition program to define. Many districts define local as coming from Georgia or a touching state (FL, AL, NC, SC, TN) or even as coming from the SE region of the United States. Others define it as coming from within a certain mile radius of their district. It is completely up to the local school nutrition program.
When purchasing food from local farms, the food safety regulations vary by the type of food product. The information in the GA Department of Education's Food Safety Regulations for Farm to School Procurement is a brief description of the food safety regulations that apply to Georgia farmers.
Sourcing items directly from farmers is allowed, but it is not a requirement for programs
to participate in Farm to School. When working directly with farmers, there are many things to consider:
- Look into Georgia farmers and distributors that can supply different items to your district throughout the year. Find out what they can offer and when they will have it.
Do not be afraid to ask them if they provide their products to other school districts.
- Come up with a list of potential menu items you want to incorporate using these local farm sources and available commodities.
- Work with your team on how and when these items and recipes will be implemented. Part of adding new recipes may include taste-tests, food safety overviews and other concepts related to how to utilize these new commodities in the cafeteria.
- Integrating Local Foods USDA Fact Sheet
- Procuring Local Foods for Child Nutrition Programs
- USDA Decision Tree