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Buy Local

​​​​​​​​​​​For Farmers

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 in this ​ Selling Local to schools fact sheet;​ 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.​

For Schools

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:

  1. Research 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.
  2. Create a list of potential menu items you want to incorporate using these local farm sources and available commodities.
  3. 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.  ​
  4. ​Integrating Local Foods USDA Fact Sheet
  5. Procuring Local Foods for Child Nutrition Programs
  6. USDA Decision Tree
  7. 10 Facts About Local Foods in Schools
  8. Maximizing Food Budgets to Buy Local
  9. Locally Grown Produce in the USDA DoD Fresh Program

Georgia’s Local Food for Schools (LFS) pilot program 
Georgia’s LFS pilot program is an initiative that will allow for the creation of model processes for seamless, sustainable integration of Georgia grown food in Georgia school meals. This collaborative effort between participating SFAs and the Georgia Department of Education School Nutrition Division will pilot a robust Georgia Grown reimbursement program that reimburses local School Food Authorities (SFAs) for purchases of Georgia Grown food.
  • ​​Georgia’s LFS program strives to achieve the following goals: 
  • Increase purchases of Georgia Grown foods 
  • Provide minimally processed Georgia Grown products to schools to alleviate stated challenges of schools when receiving Georgia grown crops directly from farmers 
  • Distribute food throughout Georgia to underserved communities 
Program Resources:GA Local Food for Schools Pilot Program Logo (wide)
GA Local Food for Schools​ Pilot Program Logo​ (square)
GA Local Food for Schools Pilot Program​ (round)​​​