Florida "Farm to School" Program
Tips for Farmers on Doing Business with Schools
Most school districts buy their produce from wholesale distributors who make regular deliveries of a wide variety of seasonal and non-seasonal items. Food service directors place orders through these vendors by phone, fax or email on a regular basis. If the product received is not what was ordered, or is in an unsatisfactory condition, the distributor bears the burden of resolving discrepancies with the shipper or grower. In their efforts to serve the freshest products possible to the students, many schools are interested in acquiring locally grown and produced farm products. This presents an opportunity for local farmers to work with the schools to provide the fresh products they’re seeking.
1. Review this web site to see which schools/school districts wish to participate in the program. They are listed by county.
2. Determine if you have the products they need. Fresh fruits and vegetables requiring a minimal amount of kitchen processing are ideal for starters.
3. Contact the person listed for the school and discuss the products you have available that they might be interested in. Determine if you may provide some or all of the products they are looking for.
4. When meeting with the school representative, be prepared to provide more information about your operation to them. They may need samples or want to see your facility.
5. Ask about the school’s volume of produce used on a weekly basis, for each item you can provide, and the condition they are delivered in.
6. Determine how your products will be delivered to the school. This may be indirectly via a local distributor, or directly with your trucks.
7. Keep in mind that most schools like “just in time” deliveries. Due to limited storage space, they want the product delivered as close to the serving date as possible.
8. Discuss the kind of condition the school expects your product to be delivered in, i.e., cleaned, washed, shucked, trimmed, etc.
9. Must have a written contract with the school; discuss with the school how the contract will be awarded, procedure, terms, etc.
10. Deliver the highest-quality product you can, in the quantities ordered, at the agreed-upon time and location(s).