There are a number of good reasons to purchase and highlight locally-grown foods in school meals programs. Farmers can tap new markets. School children can gain access to fresher foods and increased variety in school meals. And school food service directors are afforded new flexibility, both to tailor their orders and to offer creative learning opportunities in school cafeterias. According to surveys we conducted of Michigan school food service directors, the number of school food service directors participating in farm to school nearly tripled between 2004 and 2009, indicating that schools are making local food purchasing work. Click to see a summary and journal article about the 2009 survey.
If you’re a food service director who wants to purchase local products for your school meals program, click here to review and download Purchasing Michigan Products: A Step by Step Guide. Not a food service director? The Step by Step Guide also is helpful for others who want to learn more about how to work with their school food service staff to bring locally grown foods into school cafeterias. Putting Michigan Produce On Your Menu: How to Buy and Use Michigan Produce In Your Institution, a guide for food service professionals, has tips for buying, storing and using locally-grown produce in institutional food service programs.
Guidance on Procurement Procedures for US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Child Nutrition Programs from the Michigan Department of Education for the 2011/2012 school year
Minnesota Farm to School Toolkit for Food Service: This online toolkit offers recipes with nutritional analysis, menu examples, nutrition facts, buying tips, promotional materials, and tasting event ideas to help incorporate local foods into school food service. Some agricultural products local to both Minnesota and Michigan are featured.
USDA's Team Nutrition and the National Food Service Management Institute's Food Buying Guide Calculator for Child Nutrition Programs can help you determine quantities of local produce or other foods to purchase for school meals.
Fresh From the Farm: The Massachusetts Farm to School Cookbook
Amy Cotler, Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources
Now We're Cooking
Minnesota Department of Health
Fruit and Veggie Quantity Recipe Cookbook
New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Public Health Services Fruit and Vegetables Program
Kidchen Expedition Cookbook
Oklahoma Farm to School
Produce Safety Resources including food service videos, produce information sheets and fact sheets from the National Food Service Management Institute and USDA
Michigan Safe Food Risk Assessment tool for small, direct market fruit and vegetable producers from the Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development, MSU Center for Regional Food Systems, MSU Extension and Michigan Food & Farming Systems (MIFFS)
Checklist for Retail Purchasing of Local Produce from Iowa State University Extension
On-Farm Food Safety Information for Food Service Personnel from University of Minnesota
Buying Local - Approved Sources for Food Establishments from Michigan Department of Agriculture
Produce Food Safety in Schools Workshop from Joint Institute for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (FDA and University of Maryland)