Before deciding to purchase Make a list of what produce items you currently use and the amounts Make a note of how you receive the produce – bagged, boxed, etc. and the sizes Get your staff on board, fresh produce may take more prep work or come in a different form than they are used to and then....
Look over your menus and recipes Where can you substitute fresh produce? What new items could be added to the menu if you had access to fresh produce? What menu items use already processed produce that with a little more preparation could be using fresh? NOW ask yourself, “Does that change the amounts of fresh produce you put on your list?”
Make your decision early Just like menu planning, purchasing fresh produce requires advance notice. A year before you receive your first delivery is none too soon – the earlier the better.
How are you going to pay a farmer? Does the school need a statement? An invoice? A contract? How long will it take for a vendor to get paid? How often will they pay – weekly, monthly? What information will they need from the producer to pay him/her; such as social security number, employee ID number, tax identification, etc. What lead time is needed by your school to add a new vendor?
Meeting - networking - relationships Always meet face-to-face and share samples if possible Schedule tours of the kitchen If the grower/farmer is familiar with what you currently receive he/she may be able to closely mirror it A tour will also allow the producer to get a better feel for how you use and store produce and what your current produce looks like 2 - Direct marketing checklist
What to ask the producer Farm and Production Practices Can he/she provide documentation of annual water tests? What is the water source? Are wells protected from contamination? If raw manure is used, is it incorporated into the soil at least 120 days before harvest? Are baskets, totes and other containers used to harvest and transport food cleaned and sanitized before each use? Are harvested fruits and vegetable waiting for delivery and during delivery kept at appropriate temperatures? Are products washed or rinsed with potable water? Is there a pest control program? Is the storage, packing and holding area protected from pests and/or enclosed?
Worker Sanitation and Safety Are hand washing facilities available to workers before, during and after harvest? Are different gloves used for harvesting and packing or are hands washed properly before packing goods? Are ill workers sent home or put to another task other than handling the produce?
Communication questions How far in advance will the producer be able to inform you of available product? How will orders be placed – phone, FAX, Email, online? What communication will you receive if a producer is unable to fill your order and what is the timeline for this? What is the price and unit of cost of the produce he/she sells? Work with the producer to let them know when you will place the order – what is a good time for you? How often will the producer deliver? Work with the producer to decide on a good time for deliveries.
Payment Will the producer provide you with invoices, statements, or both? Will the producer provide you with the necessary data for the school to pay him/ her? Direct marketing checklist - 3
Is the producer OK with your school’s payment procedures and the length of time it will take to get paid?
Specifications Talk with the producer about desired size, quality and package unit and other specific information about the produce – what does the producer need to know about what you want? Are substitutes acceptable and if so, what? What is inappropriate packaging? Note that package must protect the integrity of food items – large garbage bags are not acceptable!
Everyone should be talking Make sure school officials, teachers and staff know that you are using locally grown produce Make sure the kids know, ask them to assist Identify local sources on published menus Contact local newspapers for feature stories Present to your local PTA or PTO Ask the farmer for informational brochures, poster boards, etc. about their farm to promote their produce Does the producer have a farm name or logo that you could use? Is the producer a member of the North Dakota Farmers Market and Growers Association – you could use their logo as well.
Be flexible Network, relationships, network The more you are able to work with the producer on issues related to delivery and purchasing volume and very importantly, with what the season has to offer, the more likely it is that you will develop a long-term successful relationship. The producer may be willing to grow different items or more of an item to suit your needs in the future.
A checklist for farmers and food service directors to begin talking about local food. Food service directors, cooks, school officials, hospital and nursing home administrators speak a language that is foreign to most farmers and large market gardeners. To begin putting fresh, local food on our plates, we must first “come to the table.” Inside this guide are a few reminders of the questions that need to be asked by food service directors and answered by farmers and vice versa. If you have more questions about how to begin buying locally grown fruits and vegetables, or selling your produce, please do not hesitate to contact these people. Holly Rose Mawby - Director, Entrepreneurial Center for Horticulture Dakota College at Bottineau Phone: 701-228-5649 or Cell Phone: 701-228-4032 North Dakota Department of Public Instruction Phone: 1-888-338-3663 or 1-888-788-8901 Deb Egeland - email@example.com Becky King - firstname.lastname@example.org or Stacie Morowski - email@example.com ND Farm to School state lead Sue Balcom - FARRMS - firstname.lastname@example.org or 701-527-5169
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