What Do You Order From Your Local Farmer?



Farm-to-school programming has become increasingly popular in school districts. Whether it be partnering with a local farm, planting a school garden, or even creating a school-based farm, these programs have been shown to provide numerous benefits. And because of the opportunities that abound, farm-to-school has become a nationwide movement with more than 42,000 schools in all 50 states actively seeking local foods or engaging with local food producers.

A common form of farm-to-school (FTS) programming is purchasing food from local farmers, yet the practice involves more than simply featuring a locally grown fruit or vegetable. In a new study published by the Journal of Child Nutrition & Management (JCN&M), authors polled a sample of school nutrition staff from the state in each of the eight National Farm to School regions with the most FTS programs to see what foods they identified as purchased, and frequency of these foods as part of the FTS program in their schools. The report, “Farm-to-School Product Purchasing Frequencies Reported by School Foodservice Employees,” also explored if differences existed that were relative to school size (based on the number of lunches served).

Fruits and vegetables were the most commonly ordered category of food with 32.2% of the 239 participants making orders daily. Dairy was found to be the second most commonly daily ordered item by nearly 23% of respondents. The most commonly delivered items on a weekly basis were meat and poultry products, reported by about 38% of respondents. Product purchasing frequencies—daily, weekly, or monthly -were also relative to school size, with daily purchases more common at larger schools, those serving more than 400 lunches each day.

The results of the report provide insights to school nutrition professionals and their partners in efforts to establish regional food systems, foster opportunities to broaden types of foods available for purchase and improve local economies.

To view the complete results of the report and explore in more detail how school size affected purchasing, check out the Fall 2018 edition of the JCN&M.

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