Florida "Farm to School" Program
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is the “Farm to School” program?
The “Farm to School” program is an effort to increase the volume of fresh and nutritious Florida products offered in the schools and to promote opportunities for schools and local farmers to work together. Many states have already implemented the program and others are in the process of developing it.
How does it help our schools?
Schools are required to meet nutritional needs of their students. By supplying fresh fruit and vegetables at breakfast, lunch or snacks, students are more apt to eat them rather than processed products. Freshly harvested produce is more flavorful and enticing with a greater nutritional content.
How does the program help farmers?
Schools purchasing locally raised or grown agricultural products benefit both the local and state economies. Small farmers can contract directly with the schools, thus having a reliable market rather than other, more volatile markets. By working with the schools, farmers can plan ahead on what, when and how much to grow or produce.
Do schools wishing to purchase Florida products have to comply with procurement rules?
Yes. Schools must comply with all federal, state and local competitive procurement rules.
Can the schools specify a geographic preference on the procurement instrument?
As of June 2008, schools participating in the Child Nutrition Programs may include a geographic preference when procuring unprocessed, locally grown or locally raised agricultural products. To qualify, the agricultural products may not have been cooked, seasoned, frozen, canned, or combined with any other products. Note: The term “unprocessed” precludes the use of geographic preference for agricultural products that have significant value added components.
Is locally grown produce inspected?
Not in the large majority of cases. Therefore, schools need to wash and prepare the produce the same as that purchased from distributors. Schools are encouraged to visit the farm and ask for references when deciding to contract with a grower.
Does purchasing the locally raised or grown product through the Farm to School Program reduce the school’s commodity entitlement funding?
No, this is not part of the commodity program. Schools contracting with local farmers pay for their purchases from their own food service account.
For schools participating in the Department of Defense (DoD) Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Program, does purchasing fresh fruit and vegetables through Farm to School affect the schools’ DoD allocation?
Schools contracting directly with local farmers pay for all purchases from their own food service account.