Follow these steps to get started selling your produce to a school:
List your business as 'Farm2School' on MarketMaker
If you currently a registered MarketMaker user, simply log into your MarketMaker profile and find the 'Methods of Sale' area under the type of products you offer. By checking the 'Farm to School' box, buyers are able to search for your business as they seek out healthy food purchases for local educational institutions.
Not a registered user? Go to food-marketmaker.com and click on your state. Remember the more detail, the more searchable you are and the easier your business is to find!
Create a list of your produce.
Make a short list of items that you produce in abundance between August and June. Be sure to include approximate months of availability. Your food service director may work with you to swap out-of-season items for ones that you grow.
Meet with your nearest Food Service Director.
Find the contact information for the food service director, either on the school website or by calling the school office. He or she is the one to talk to first, although in some districts you may end up working with a produce purchaser.
Figure out the school’s capacity to buy directly from a farmer.
Most schools are eager to establish connections with local farmers. However, you may find that a school is limited in their capacity to store and/or process fresh produce or has limited funds. Make sure to enlist the support of active parents, administration or teachers to overcome any possible barriers to Farm2School. In most cases, motivation is all that is needed to make the relationship work.
Be honest and realistic about pricing.
It is important to discuss pricing at the beginning of the Farm2School conversation, as school food services work within extremely tight budgets. If your food service director has never purchased the items you arrange to sell, there’s a USDA Food Buying Guide to help convert portions and student numbers into cases and pounds.