Resources for School Food
It’s up to you to define “local” when it comes to farm to school. Many farm to school programs in Oregon use the state's definition of local because there is state funding available to support the purchase of products grown and/or processed in Oregon
Here are some resources to help you find and buy local products:
- Oregon Harvest for Schools Portal: this tool allows you to search by product or county to find local food that fit the needs of your meal program. You can’t make purchases on the portal, but it will provide contact information and details about product offerings to spark a connection with a local producer.
- Oregon Department of Education Farm to School Grant Funds for Oregon Foods: ODE Procurement Grants provide funds to preschool and K-12 school districts participating in NSLP, CACFP and SFSP to purchase Oregon grown and/or processed foods.
- Curious what other Oregon school food buyers are purchasing? Take a look at these examples from the Oregon Department of Education
- Tips for Buying from Local Farms and Producers from Vermont FEED
- Organics in Farm to School Many schools across the country are applying organic principles to the three core elements of farm to school - local food procurement, schools gardens, and food and agriculture education - in a number of ways. This new fact sheet from the National Farm to School Network shares keys to success for integrating organics in farm to school practices and highlights three case studies of school districts finding success with organic practices.
Communicating with producers is an important first step in local sourcing. Make sure you are able to articulate what you are interested in purchasing and what requirements are needed. Consider delivery, quantity, frequency and pricing. Creating a product request sheet can be helpful to share with producers.
- Sample Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between School Garden and School Nutrition Programs
- CAFF Bridge the Communications Gap: Guide to Help Farmers and School Food Service Staff Communicate Effectively
- Pecks for Pounds: A Translation Guide- Farming amounts to purchasing amounts
- A toolkit for institutional purchasers sourcing local food from distributors
Food Safety is of utmost importance, and there are often lots of questions about this topic in regards to Farm to School purchasing. Here are the legal requirements when it comes to local purchasing:
- Dairy products must be purchased from an establishment licensed by ODA.
- Eggs A producer is required to have an egg handler's license from the ODA Food Safety Division
- Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Licensing: Farms that sell fresh, whole fruits and vegetables directly can do so without the need of licensing or permit.
- Prepared Fresh Foods: Fresh produce that has been cut or prepared in any manner before purchase must be processed in an Oregon State Department of Agriculture licensed food-processing facility.
- Meats and Poultry: All slaughtered and processed meat and poultry must be inspected by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and slaughtered in USDA-inspected plants.
Please note: Your district may have additional food safety requirements, so make sure to check with your local nutrition services department.
- If your district is looking for a checklist to vet produce safety here is one from Iowa University
- Food Safety Recording and Presentation slides:
How can we ensure the safety of farm fresh food? This presentation shares local food safety best practices, including identifying safety measures for school gardens and school salad bars.
Geographic preference is one way for school food buyers to arrange formal purchasing to favor local producers. It can be a useful tool in farm to school programs purchasing large quantities of product that require a bidding process.
- USDA Geographic preference information sheet - What It Is and How to Use It
School Garden to Cafeteria
Including school garden produce in cafeteria meals is a great way to increase student access to fresh, local fruits and vegetables. It’s not difficult to ensure that school garden produce can be safely used in school meals, requirements are no different than sourcing from a local farm.
- School Garden Food Safety Manual from the Oregon Department of Education
- Oregon Department of Education Local Sourcing resources
- USDA Resources for procuring local food