Local Produce for School Lunch Program: An Introduction

This post serves as an introduction to our series of articles about sourcing local produce for school lunch programs. 

Your school system already utilizes sustainable practices when constructing and operating new schools. As a foodservice director you may have considered additional steps you can take to support the sustainability effort. Why not adopt a program such as buying local produce for your school lunch program (i.e., farm to school program)? A successful farm to school program partners schools with local farms and results in more nutritious and better tasting menu offerings, which in turn can increase school meal participation rates and contribute to the overall health of your students. In addition, purchasing directly from nearby farms supports the local economy and provides health and nutrition educational opportunities for students. All of these benefits sound great, but where should you start and what hurdles might you encounter?

Local Produce Image

Many resources are available to assist school foodservice directors with sourcing local produce for their lunch program.

The Farm-to-School Program is a valuable national network that connects schools with local farms. Farm-to-School provides myriad resources to help school foodservice directors get started. The Farm-to-School website provides information about building relationships with local growers, case studies from school systems that have already implemented farm to school programs, and tools for evaluating the program’s success.

I highly recommend reading USDA Farm to School Team 2010 Summary Report. This report summarizes the findings from fifteen school districts across the country that have already implemented a successful program – describing challenges encountered, along with real-world solutions. You may be interested to learn how various school districts overcame funding shortfalls, labor challenges, and facility modifications that are required to implement a farm to school program. The amount of valuable information and the number of ideas and solutions available to anyone interested in starting a farm to school program are incredible. Consider investing time researching the opportunity and take advantage of the resources that are available to you through the Farm-to-School program.

The potential positive impact of a farm to school program for your school system is enormous. Good luck, and stay tuned for additional posts about this topic!


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1 Comment

  1. I am glad that I noticed this blog , precisely the right info that I was looking for!


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