Resources for Producers

Getting Started Selling to Schools

There is an opportunity to get the food you grow into the mouths and bellies of schoolchildren in Oregon! Selling to schools can provide a new market for your products, and helps connect children with the source of their food. There are over 70 school districts in Oregon who are purchasing local food for meals and snacks, teaching children about where their food comes from, and running educational programs such as edible gardens and farm field trips. 


Oregon is a leader in Farm to School, and grant programs administered by the Oregon Department of Education provide dedicated funding for Oregon-grown and/or processed foods in preschool and K-12 schools, which means huge opportunities for Oregon's producers to benefit from increased sales. If you are considering the school marketplace, you might want to consider these things:

  • PRODUCT: Know what you grow, how much you grow, when it is available, and how it can be packaged and/or processed for schools. 
  • COST OF PRODUCTION: Know how much it costs you to produce an item so you can agree on a fair and profitable price with schools.
  • FOOD SAFETY: Review your food safety practices. Organizing your food safety practices into a document like a Food Safety Plan will help you explain what you do to food service directors. 
  • LIABILITY INSURANCE: Review and make copies of your liability insurance policies. In most cases, a school will request you to carry liability insurance coverage (at about $1M). If you are selling to a school through a distributor, then your distributor may provide this coverage. 
  • DELIVERY: Many schools will require delivery to one or more locations, possibly on more than one day of the week. What is your capacity for delivery? Know what you can do, and what you can’t. How can you work collaboratively with other farmers or distributors, or schools themselves, to make delivery work?
  • EDUCATION: Are you interested in visiting the school cafeteria or classroom to share knowledge about the food you grow? If so, this may be a great benefit to the school. If you aren’t interested or able to engage in educational activities or have students to your farm, can you partner with other local farmers to provide some sort of educational experience?

The Oregon Department of Agriculture has a School Market Readiness Assessment which will help you self-evaluate your business and identify steps to become ready to sell to schools under the Farm to School Program.

Also, consider getting listed on the Oregon Harvest for Schools Portal, an on-line directory used by school food buyers and searchable by product and region. To get listed, contact your Regional Hub Coordinator or OFSSGN. 

Additional resources for producers:

    • In 2019, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) established a three-year cooperative agreement with the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) and the National Farm to School Network (NFSN) to develop a farm to school training program for agricultural producers.Program Goal: To give agricultural producers training and tools to build their capacity to launch or grow efforts to market to schools, therefore increasing sales to schools for farmers while expanding farm to school activities for students in schools and communities across the nation.

    • There are several economic advantages to working with distributors that have school accounts. This distributor tip sheet will help you weigh the pros and cons.


    • The USDA's Selling Local Food to Schools guide will help you navigate purchasing pathways Nutrition services can take to purchase your products

    • If you identify as BIMPOC (Black, indigenous, mixed/multicultural, people of color), check out this resource for how to engage with the Farm to School Movement, and the Oregon Department of Education Grants