From kindergarten to college, interest in serving locally grown foods in cafeterias is increasing in Massachusetts and throughout the country. Farm to School is a win-win effort. School food service directors can improve the nutritional value and taste of school meals while also supporting the local economy. Farmers selling locally-grown products to schools can earn a profit while finding new ways to connect with local consumers.
How to Participate
The organizations below work with both farmers and school food service personnel to bring locally grown products into schools and other institutions. Whether your are a farmer or food service director, the resources below can help you learn more.
NH Farm to School, the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) and the NH Food Alliance are hosting an upcoming free webinar series for producers interested in learning more about selling to the institutional market including to schools, higher education and hospitals. These webinars will cover information about the various types of institutions, what they purchase, purchasing requirements, enterprise analysis to determine if what you grow makes financial sense for selling to institutions and how to sell through a food hub which market to a variety of customers including institutions. Sign up for one, two or all of them.
- March 19 4:00-5:15 pm. Opportunities in the institutional Market in New England and New Hampshire. Led by Stacey Purslow of NH Farm to School and Tammy Howard from NCAT. This session will feature details about how different institutions purchase food, about Federal meal programs including the National School Lunch Program, communicating with institutional food service directors and a panel of institutional food buyers. We will also cover local food incentive and cooperative agreement programs that support schools buying local and regional foods. Please register here.
- March 22 - The 7th Massachusetts Farm & Sea to School Conference - Northampton. Over 300 farm to school advocates from diverse backgrounds such as food service, education, food distribution, farms, and advocacy, to advance a strong and vibrant local food system. Participants will learn new tools and develop new connections to expand food education and local food in school meals. The conference will feature interactive workshops, facilitated discussions, an exhibitor hall, field trips (on Thursday, March 21st), and many networking opportunities. Details here.
- March 26 4:00-5:15 pm. Is the Institutional Market Right for Your Business? Jesse Wright, a UNH Extension Field Specialist in Agriculture Business Management, will be leading this. This session will feature enterprise analysis of some favorite institutional foods-carrots, potatoes and lettuce. Learn how to use enterprise analysis to determine how to price your products for profit. Please register here.
- April 2 4:00-5:15 pm. Selling Through Food Hubs. Learn about food hubs in New Hampshire and the services they provide for the farms they work with. Also covered will be learning about the Strengthening Organic Enforcement Act (SOE)— what it means for producers and the implications it may have selling through a food hub in New Hampshire. This session is being led by Katelyn Porter, the value chain coordinator at the NH Food Alliance. This webinar is in partnership with NOFA-NH and the Transition to Organic Partnership Program (TOPP). Please register here.