Farm to School Marketing Guide Now Available
Helping farmers link with local schools
March 25, 2010
A new resource to help Michigan farmers market their agricultural products to local schools is now available on the Michigan Farm to School website at www.mifarmtoschool.msu.edu.
The term “Farm to School” applies to a variety of initiatives but centers around efforts to incorporate local foods into meals in school cafeterias. These local food purchasing programs offer a variety of benefits such as expanded market opportunity for farmers, closer relationships among food service directors, farmers, and vendors, improved access for school children to local foods, including fresh fruits and vegetables, and support of the Michigan economy.
Interest and participation in local food purchasing is growing among Michigan food service directors, but more farmers with a wider variety of products available for more of the school year are needed to meet this demand. Marketing Michigan Products: A Step-By-Step Guide provides tools and information to prepare farmers to access school markets. Reviewed by farmers and an advisory committee, the Guide includes tools to help farmers address food safety, make insurance decisions, understand school food funding, link with local schools and Farm to School resources, and prepare marketing packets and school food bid documents. Although there are no one size fits all solutions or strategies for Farm to School programs, Marketing Michigan Products outlines the steps to follow and questions to ask and answer as farmers embark on this new marketing venture.
The Michigan Farm to School website also hosts Purchasing Michigan Products: A Step-By-Step Guide, a companion guide to help school food service directors purchase local food. Tools for using local food in school fundraisers, links to recipes for incorporating local food in school meals programs, and links to other organizations working on Farm to School are available as well. Interested readers can subscribe to the Michigan Farm to School listserv, and school food service directors and farmers can register their programs on the Michigan Farm to School Directory. Link to local food with Michigan Farm to School!
Colleen Matts, Farm to Institution Specialist with the C.S. Mott Group for Sustainable Food Systems at Michigan State University, coordinates Michigan Farm to School and developed Marketing Michigan Products. This guide was funded by Michigan State University’s Project GREEEN (Generating Research and Extension to meet Economic and Environmental Needs).
Colleen Matts, Farm to Institution Specialist