Originally written by Jennifer Folliard, former SDSU Extension Family & Community Health Field Specialist.
Producers have an avenue to provide their products that they might not have known about or may have question on how they can access this opportunity. Local schools are an excellent source for local producers to provide healthy options for students in their communities. In South Dakota 70% of schools have reported they are interested in buying locally produced products to serve to students (Dakota Rural Action Farm to School Survey, 2017).
Here are some questions to think about when getting started as a producer with farm to school.
- Have you thought about finding new avenues to provide your products locally?
- If you had the opportunity to provide your products to local schools would you consider that as an option?
- Where would you go for to help with understanding how farm to school works or to find a school?
- Do you know any schools that source local farmers products?
- Would you use a local food distributor to supply your products to South Dakota schools?
- Have you ever thought about ways you could market your products to local schools and suppliers?
- Have schools ever contacted you directly about sourcing your products and have you come across any rules when it comes to procurement?
- The USDA requires schools to make sure suppliers meet specific food safety standards. Have you looked into those or would you be willing to acquire those best practices to provide locally?
- Many products produced in South Dakota are harvested during times when school is not in session. Would you considered growing other produce that could be harvested at various times throughout the year if there was a consistent market?
- Would you consider finding other ways to be a part of farm to school such as in an educational basis?
Here are just a few resources that can help you get started, answer a few of the questions you may have, and for more information look at the South Dakota Farm to School Resource Guide for a more in-depth look.
- Rural Food Business Toolkit, Center for Rural Affairs
- Tool: Sample purchasing agreement; Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems, University of Wisconsin-Madison
- Implementing Farm to School Activities: Food Safety, USDA-FNS
- Produce Safety Resources, Institute of Child Nutrition
"It is worthwhile, helps SD Producers, and exposes our children to great produce and other items, which are often better-quality than something shipped here."