Bringing food from the farm to the school is the crux of farm to school! There are many methods for getting local food into school cafeterias. Remember that whether you work through your distributor, use geographic preference, or another method, you always have to abide by USDA regulations.
Our guide is the most comprehensive look at procurement options in Georgia, including examples from 13 Georgia school districts.
Getting Started with Local Procurement
These documents will give you an overview of the options for making local purchases.
- Tips on Getting Started
- 10 Facts About Local Food in School Cafeterias
- Introduction to Local Procurement: Webinar from USDA
- Summary of Guidelines for Local Food Purchasing
- How to Start the Conversation: This is a list of questions to help guide the first discussions between school nutrition directors and farmers.
- Buying Local Decision Tree: This resource helps you decide which procurement method to use when buying local and offers lots of tips for how to source local items.
Finding farms from which to buy is one of the first steps to local procurement. We have a lot of great tools in Georgia to help you find food producers in your area. To help you make connections, check out our Tips for Working with Farmers.
- Georgia Organics’ Good Food Guide: A list of all our member farms, plus farmers markets, restaurants, and businesses that support good food
- Georgia Department of Agriculture’s Market Maker: Includes farms, ranches, fisheries, and other producers in Georgia
- Georgia Grown: A list of farms and food producers across the state.
- Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association: This database lets you search for a local farm by product
- Local Harvest: A national database of farms across the county
- Atlanta Locally Grown
- Athens Locally Grown
- Augusta Locally Grown
- Northeast Georgia Locally Grown
In addition to searching those databases for farms, you can find food producers in your community by connecting with folks who work with farmers every day. They can help point you in the right direction!
- UGA Cooperative Extension
- USDA Farm Service Agency
- Georgia Farm Bureau
- Farmers Markets: Visiting your local farmers market is a great way to find a lot of growers all in one place and start conversations with them. They may be growing on a larger scale and can support a school district.
- Food Hubs: Food Hubs are popping up more and more and, as aggregators of local products, will know lots of farmers.
- Producer Associations: These groups represent a specific industry and support a specific product. Talking to a producer association is especially useful if you are looking for a specific product (i.e.: Blueberries).
Local Procurement Methods
These documents go more in-depth about certain local procurement strategies.
- Using DOD Fresh to Purchase Local Produce
- Using Product Specifications and Requirements to Target Local
- USDA Foods: A Resource for Buying Local
- School Food Focus has a variety of procurement tools to assist schools, parents, and food producers, including a Getting Started Toolkit on leveraging school district buying power and Focus on the Plate product lists.
Local Procurement Through a Distributor
- Working with a Distributor to Serve Local Food in Schools: This summary of a USDA F2S webinar covers the basics of working with distributors to source locsl items.
- Tips and Tools for Farm to School Distribution: This resource from Oklahoma Farm to School provides helpful tips for producers, schools, and distributors.
- A Toolkit for Institutional Purchasers Sourcing Local Food from Distributors: Although written for institutions in New England, this guide has good information for anyone sourcing local food through a distributor.
- The Role of Distributors in Farm to School: This resource for distributors details how they can get started helping schools source local products.
- Final Rule on Geographic Preference: The rules and regulations from USDA for using geographic preference.
- Geographic Preference: What It Is and How to Use It
- A School’s Guide to Purchasing Washington-Grown Food: This resource from Washington explains how that state used geographic preference to strengthen farm to school.
- Geographic Preference Primer: This document from School Food Focus summarizes the geographic preference law and provides a step-by-step guide for school districts to to implement a geographic preference policy.
Tips for Farmers Sourcing to Schools
- A Guide for Farmers: Check out this introductory video from the Mississippi Farm to School Network on how farmers can connect and work with schools
- Selling Food to Schools: A Resource for Producers: This guide from
the USDA gives an overview of the way farmers can sell to schools.
- Getting Started: Farmer Self-Assessment: From Michigan Farm to School, this worksheet will help a farmer determine if they are interested in and ready to sell to schools.
- Checklist for Producers Selling Produce to K-12 Schools: This resource from California helps a farmer write up information about their farm to share with schools
Tracking Local Purchases
- Local Procurement Baseline Assessment: This summary of a webinar from the USDA will help you figure out local purchases you’re already making, so you know where you’re starting!
Other Ideas for Local Procurement
- Frozen Local: Strategies for Freezing Locally Grown Produce for the K-12 Marketplace: This document provides information on freezing local foods on a small to medium scale.
- School Food Learning Lab in Saint Paul, Minnesota: A case study of procurement change in action.
- Feed My School for a Week: FMS is a program of the Georgia Department of Agriculture in which, for one week, 75-100 percent of the food served in a school’s cafeteria is Georgia Grown.