Below are many recommended resources and Web sites to help you start or expand a farm-to-college project. Please contact us if you have additional resources or Web sites to suggest.
- Bringing Local Food to Local People: A Resource Guide for Farm-to-School and Farm-to-Institution Programs
- An introduction to farm-to-cafeteria programs, with an extensive list of resources and contacts for those interested in starting programs.
- Building Local Food Programs On College Campus: Tips for Dining Administrators, Family Farmers & Student Advocates
- This guide provides tangible guidance on how to conceptualize, structure, and implement food programs that support local family farmers.
- Farm-to-Cafeteria Connections Handbook
- An extensive resource guide for those interested in starting farm-to-cafeteria programs at all levels, with information for food services, farmers and others. Includes case studies of programs and a list of resources.
- Humane Purchasing Guide
- Strategies for planning and implementing more humane food purchasing.
- Linking Farms with Colleges: A Guide to Understanding Farm-to-College Programs for Farmers, Food Service, and Organizers
- Details the benefits, challenges and strategies for success for building successful farm-to-college projects and includes case studies of innovative projects and an extensive resource list.
- Linking Farms with Schools: A Guide to Understanding Farm-to-School Programs for Schools, Farmers and Organizers
- Details the benefits, challenges and strategies for success for building successful farm-to-school projects and includes case studies of innovative projects and an extensive resource list.
- National Farm-to-College Research Report
- Report from earlier research conducted by the Community Food Security Coalition on farm-to-college programs, including an introduction to the programs, information on how they are started and operated, and recommendations for those interested in beginning their own programs.
- Supplying Local Food to Educational Institutions: A How-To Manual for Use by Educational Institutions, Farmers, and Advocacy Groups
- Examines the barriers to institutional sales and outlines seven strategies to overcome the barriers. Based on actual experience with a private college, Hampshire College in Amherst, MA, and the Deerfield Elementary School, South Deerfield, MA. References included along with an outline for a local food event (including a budget).
- Buy Local Food and Farm Toolkit: A Guide for Student Organizers
- A resource aimed primarily at students interested in starting farm-to-college programs, including an outline of a step-by-step process for getting a program off the ground.
- Real Food Challenge
- Works with student movements across the country.
- Farm to Hospital: Supporting Local Agriculture and Improving Health Care
- This brochure introduces interested farmers and hospital food service departments to the ins and outs of developing partnerships between hospitals and local farms. Included are examples of ways hospitals can improve the food they offer, issues for farmers to consider if they are interested in selling products to area hospitals, and specific case studies of successful programs.
- A Guide to Serving Local Food on Your Menu
- The Guide is a primer to help foodservice managers and directors, caterers, chefs, restaurateurs and others consider creative ways to incorporate local food products into almost any foodservice setting. Chefs, institutional purchasing agents and others share their experience in short case studies within the 32-page Guide. Topics include where to begin, identifying sources of supply, developing relationships with farmers, working through existing distributors, and things to consider about the regional food system.
- Local Food Connections: Food Service Considerations
- A short publication from Iowa State University Extension aimed specifically at food services professionals, with information on how they can start purchasing local products and a list of available resources.
- Farmer Resource Guide: Managing Risk Through Sales to Educational Institutions
- An extensive compilation of resources that address the many different issues within farm-to-institutional purchasing projects, including how to approach food service directors, how to organize supply and distribution of the products, characteristics of different institutions, pricing issues, and several case studies of different types of farm-to-institution projects.
- Food Safety and Liability Insurance for Small-Scale and Limited Resource Farmers
- This page outlines CFSC's work in building the capacity of limited resource producers to address food safety and liability insurance requirements of institutions.
- Local Food Connections: From Farms to Schools
- A short publication from Iowa State University Extension aimed primarily at farmers. Provides an overview of some of the challenges in marketing directly to schools, recommends marketing strategies and provides a resource list for further information.
- Nuevos Mercados Para Su Cosecha (New Ways to Sell What You Grow)
- This Spanish-language publication details strategies for farmers interested in marketing their products to local institutions such as schools, colleges, hospitals, retirement homes and day care centers. Included is a resource list of organizations around the country that work with Latino farmers looking for ways to market their products.
Description of this publication and other resources in Spanish | Descripción de esta publicación y otros recursos en Español
- What Producers Should Know About Selling to Local Foodservice Markets
- This brochure provides a brief outline for producers on GAPs (Good Agricultural Production Practices) and other safety and sanitation practices. It also provides a brief outline of recommended questions to ask food service operators, regarding product specifications, ordering procedures, delivery options, and the payment process.
- Agriculture in the Classroom
- Links to state-specific programs and resources.
- Feeding Young Minds: Hands-on Farm-to-School Education Programs
- Focusing on educational activities that complement local purchasing for school meals, this booklet highlights farm-to-school experiential education programs from around the country. These range from cooking classes in New Mexico, to school fundraisers in Ohio, to kindergartners tasting watermelon radishes in Pennsylvania. A resource section is also included.
- Teaching the Food System
- Teaching the Food System is a free, classroom-ready curriculum, developed by experienced educators and content experts, that emphasizes the relationships among food, public health, equity and the environment. Background readings serve to brief educators and students on key food system issues, lesson plans engage students in critical analyses of these issues, and classroom-based activities include discussions, debates and projects. Slides, handouts and other supplemental materials that will help educators deliver compelling lessons are included in the curriculum, which can be taught in any order, either independently or as part of a series.
- Teaching Organic Farming & Gardening: Resources for Instructors
- This 600-page manual covers practical aspects of organic farming and gardening, applied soil science, and social and environmental issues in agriculture. It is available for $45 from the Center, or can be downloaded.
- Behavioral Economic Concepts To Encourage Healthy Eating in School Cafeterias: Experiments and Lessons From College Students
- Changing small factors that influence consumer choice may lead to healthier eating within controlled settings, such as school cafeterias. This report describes a behavioral experiment in a college cafeteria to assess the effects of various payment options and menu selection methods on food choices.
- Going Local: Paths to Success for Farm to School Programs
- With case studies from eight states - California, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hamphire, North Carolina, and Oregon, the publication provides a snapshot of the diverse ways in which farm to school is making a difference nationwide.
- Sustainable Food Policy Research:
- Research conducted on institutional food purchasing policies that address a range of social and environmental concerns.
- Healthy Farms, Healthy Kids: Evaluating the Barriers and Opportunities for Farm-to-School Programs
- Provides case studies of programs at the K-12 level and includes policy recommendations.
- CIAS Research Brief #55 on Dishing up local food on Wisconsin campuses
- A report on farm-to-college programs at several Wisconsin college campuses, including some of the early lessons learned from programs such as the University of Wisconsin-Madison's.
- CIAS Research Brief #39 on New Markets for Producers: Selling to Colleges
- Summary of research that identified opportunities and barriers faced by producers that sell products to six different U.S. colleges with significant local, sustainable food buying components
- Something to Cheer About: National Trends and Prospects for Sustainable Agriculture Products in Food Service Operations of Colleges and Universities
- A survey of farm-to-college programs operating in 1998 and comparison of their characteristics.
- College Farm Guide from The New Farm
- The New Farm has a resource listing student organic farms, along with contact information.
- Multimedia Presentation--The Benefits of Local Food
- A video presentation geared toward college students, presenting economic analyses, and a visul portrayal of the benefits of local foods.
- Selling to Institutions: An Iowa Farmer's Guide
- Issues to consider when selling to institutions, including products, equipment, insurance and other requirements, and government assistance.
- USDA Agricultural Marketing Service's information on "Good Agricultural Practices" and/or "Good Handling Practices"
- On this page there is an audit checklist, a program brochure and an audit score sheet.
- Bringing Sustainable Food into Youth Outdoor Education
- Master's thesis evaluating the potential barriers, opportunities, and benefits for developing a farm-to-school program at the UI McCall Field Campus. In addition, analyses of both the UI McCall Field Campus and McCall area food systems (specifically production and distribution) were conducted to provide the context for implementing local food initiatives and research in the McCall area and UI McCall Field Campus.
- Feasability Study of Farm to College program at University of Cincinnati
- The intent of this Master's thesis was to determine the feasibility of implementing a farm-to-college program at the University of Cincinnati's main campus dining facilities. The results of the study showed that the current food service operation and logistical structure could support a farm-to-college program as long as the contracted food service company could find a local food distributor that offers competitive prices, meets food safety regulations, supply the high quantity of product demand, and provide reliable delivery of goods.
- Selling Local: The Application of Social Marketing Theory to Institutional Buying Programs
- Senior thesis researching how to increase college student demand for local foods. Includes comprehensive case studies of six of the nine New England farm to college programs included in the study.
- A Strategy for Community Economic Development: Increasing Purchasing of Washington Agricultural Products by Washington Institutions
- Master's thesis examining strategies for increasing purchasing of Washington agricultural products by Washington institutions as a way of improving regional markets for the products.
- A Survey of Farm-to-College Programs: History, Characteristics and Student Involvement
- Master’s thesis examining farm-to-college programs, with an emphasis on those at large public universities and on student involvement with programs, along with a discussion of how programs could become institutionalized. Includes case studies for five large public universities with farm-to-college programs, references, and survey and interview questions.
- The Taste of Green: Corporate Integration of Bioregional Foodstuffs in College and University Foodservices
- Over the last five years a trend of integrating bioregional food has arisen on college and university campuses in the United States. These 'Farm to College' programs originate in the doctrines of the alternative food movements of the sixties and seventies. This trend parallels the growing public interest in alternative foods that has grown since the USDA began labeling organic items in 2002. Large foodservice companies (including Compass, Bon Appetit, Chartwells, Sodexho, Aramark, and Parkhurst Dining) operate over 65% of these farm to college programs. As these corporations currently operate within the larger industrial food complex, their abrupt enthusiasm for these programs prompts a question of their motives. This paper is an in-depth analysis of the integrity of corporate run Farm to College programs through a historical look at the evolution of the industrial food system, alternative food movements, and corporate green wash.
- Delivering More: Scaling Up Farm to School Programs
- How can farm to school programs reach more students and more schools? This booklet looks at CFSC’s work with four farm to school programs seeking to answer this question through strategic planning related to distribution capacity. This booklet profiles each program’s planning efforts, describes the related work of The Farm to School Distribution Learning Community, and explores the implications of the results.
- Farm to School Tips, Tools & Guidelines for Food Distribution & Food Safety
- This manual is intended to provide information, insight and useful tools for farmers and school food service directors interested in FTS program participation, distribution and food safety. The manual also includes information on two new tools for use by farmers and school food service directors that are currently being used in Oklahoma: a distribution cost template and a produce calculator.
- Sysco’s Journey from Supply Chain to Value Chain: Results and Lessons Learned from the 2008 National Good Food Network/ Sysco Corporation Pilot Project to Source and Sell Good Food
- Sysco partnered with the Wallace Center’s National Good Food Network (NGFN) to research and develop ways in which the company could transition from its traditional food supply chain model to a new values-based supply chain, or value chain, approach to sourcing, selling and distributing food.
- USDA Moving Food Along the Value Chain: Innovations in Regional Food Distribution
- This report examines the aggregation, distribution, and marketing of eight diverse food value chains to glean practical lessons about how they operate, the challenges they face, and how they take advantage of emerging opportunities for marketing differentiated food products.
- Keystone Development Center
- Kate Smith, Executive Director
1238 South Garner St, State College, PA 16801
- Mid-Atlantic Guide to Cooperative Development Resources
- A comprehensive guide to setting up a cooperative and finding help with various aspects of the process.
- USDA Rural Development: Business and Cooperative Programs
- Information on publications and grants for rural businesses and cooperatives.
- Innovative Marketing Opportunities for Small Farmers: Local Schools as Customers
- A series of bulletins using the example of a farmer-managed cooperative in northern Florida to detail the development of a cooperative structure, includes more resources on cooperatives
- Federation of Southern Cooperatives
- An organization in the Southeast United States that has as its primary objectives the retention of black owned land and the use of cooperatives for land-based economic development
- New North Florida Cooperative
- The goal of the cooperative is to provide marketing services to the participating farmers, collectively sell produce to markets such as local school districts, and ultimately to increase the amount of product being sold,thereby increasing the farmers' income.
- How to locate farmers or farmer organizations
Contact your local county cooperative extension office, listed on the USDA website.
Go to your state department of agriculture and search for vegetable, fruit, dairy, or beef cattlemen associations to find medium scale family farmers in your state that may be more likely to have the volume needed to sell to institutions than a small family farmer
Or search for specific trade associations, for example:
Directory of Fresh Produce Trade Associations,
Produce Industry Website Directory of Associations & Organizations, or
Directory of State Cattlemen's Associations
ATTRA (the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service) has assembled an online database of local food directories, useful for producers and consumers alike. The database includes national, regional, state and community directory resources for all 50 states, searchable by state.
Eat Wild is a source for safe, healthy, natural and nutritious grass-fed beef, lamb, goats, bison, poultry and dairy products.
Local Harvest provides lists of farmers markets, CSAs, farms and other local food sources.
- Networks or distributors that work with local farm products
In order for a farm to institution project to work, there generally needs to be a distribution infrastructure that brings together farmers and institutions. Institutional food service operations typically purchase large volumes of product at one time and usually purchase from only a handful of distributors. Because of the magnitude of these food service operations, they generally need product to be reliable and consistent in terms of volume, quality, frequency of deliveries, and packing specifications. Working with an existing distribution infrastructure or creating a new one can help to provide an organized channel for getting products from multiple farms into a large-scale institutional food service operation.
This distribution infrastructure can take many forms including a farmer-managed cooperative, a non-profit organization that manages a farmer network, or a distributor. A farmer managed cooperative or network will have a fair amount of control in guaranteeing that farmers using sustainable agriculture practices are being supported in a fair and equitable manner.
In the case of a private distributor, it is important to consider institutionalizing methods for supporting the farms that the project wants to support and supporting these farms in a fair and equitable manner. When developing your local food program keep in mind that terms like local, small, or sustainable can have different meanings to different people. Discuss and agree upon the types of farms the project intends to support.
To assure that the distribution firm you work with or the program you develop supports local, sustainable farms in a fair and equitable manner, consider adopting one or more of these practices:
- Include specific details on what products from which farms are allowed and request a system for how this will be tracked in the contract with the distributor. Request that a minimum percentage of the food provided by the distribution firm will be sourced locally. Write this into the contract.
- Create a sticker with the distributor for farmers to use on their boxes so that when their product arrives at the institution there is evidence of where the product came from and when it was picked.
- Include in the food purchasing policy of the institution (see Food Alliance's work on this) and the contract with the distributor a requirement to only purchase products with certain labels. Examples of existing label programs include: USDA Organic Certified; American Humane Free Farmed Certified; Food Alliance Certified (www.foodalliance.org/certification) to verify that products are organic, humane, or sustainable; a label such as 'grass fed' or 'rBST free' or similar labels that don't require a specific certification to validate; or Marine Stewardship Council certification for sustainable seafood. Keep in mind that there must be enough of these products available locally for the institution and distributor to be able to follow through with the commitment, so research ahead of time will be critical. Look for the Real Food Calculator coming soon on the Real Food Challenge website, www.realfoodchallenge.org. Work with Buy Fresh, Buy Local chapters in your region to develop standards for local and sustainable and ways to monitor these standards. See Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project's program on this. For items that you cannot procure locally consider using Food Alliance certified products, Protected Harvest certified products and fair traded products.
- Develop an evaluation system for measuring the success of the farm to institution project from the viewpoint of the farmers involved (i.e. price, satisfaction with relationships, etc). Go to the Community Food Security Coalition's Evaluation Program page for ideas related to this.
- Communicate with farmers on a regular basis to assess their experience. Maintain a close relationship with farmers even if you are working through a distributor; this may be your best assurance in knowing whether your institution is supporting the farms you want them to support and in a fair and profitable manner.
- Communicate with your distributor on a regular basis: raise their awareness of this issue. See the List of Potential Questions to Ask Distributors (Word doc), developed by Roberta Anderson of Food Alliance. If institutions can ask distributors more sophisticated questions they can help increase distributors' understanding of these issues and possibly influence purchasing decisions based on these issues.
The following list of networks, organizations, and distributors have been identified as helping to build connections between farms and local institutions or other markets:
Service Area: National
Association of Family Farms 3880 Rodman Street, NW Suite C213 Washington, DC 20016-2824 Phone: 202.997.1112 Email:
Farmplate.com is a great place to find farms and other local food sources in your area. If you don't find information for your area, FarmPlate will research and add sources to its database. Just email your request to Jeff Gangemi at
Also, you can use FarmPlate.com as a place to map your food web, which is the web of relationships between your school and its food sources. Go to the Farmplate College Guide for more information, and to see a few examples of FarmPlate profiles with active food webs.
The Food Alliance
Northwest office and national headquarters: 1829 NE Alberta, # 5, Portland, OR 97211
Phone: 503.493.1066, Fax: 503.493.1069, E-mail:
Organic Valley/Organic Prairie One Organic Way LaFarge, WI 54639 Phone: 888.444.6455 Ext. #3444-Consumer Relations Dept.
Protected Harvest 1211 Brunswick Court Arnold, MD 21012 Phone: 410.757.4234 Fax: 410.626.7732 E-mail:
Service Area: Northeast, OH, WV, and MD
Black River Produce PO Box 489 North Springfield, VT 05150 Phone: 800.228.5481 Email: Service area: VT, NH, MA, NY
Dole and Bailey 16 Conn Street Woburn, MA 01801 Phone: 888.777.2648 Fax: 781.935.9085 E-mail: Service area: New England
Maine Foods Network Service area: Maine
Northern Tier Sustainable Meats Grantville Summit, PA 16926 Phone: 570-364-5212 E-mail:
Paragon-Monteverde Joel Ankney 55–36th Street Pittsburgh, PA 15201 Phone: 412.621.2626 1.800.934.6495 Fax: 412.621.2829 E-mail: Service area: western PA and neighboring areas in Ohio, WV, and MD
Southeastern Massachusetts Agricultural Partnership (SEMAP) One State Bog Road, P.O. Box 569 East Wareham, MA 02538 Phone: 508.295.2212 x50 Email: Service Area: Southeastern Massachusetts
Service Area: Midwest
Home Grown Wisconsin Suzanne Rubinstein General Manager P.O. Box 6171 Madison, WI 53716 Phone: 608.341.8939 E-mail:
Service Area: West
California Certified Organic Farmers 1115 Mission Street Santa Cruz, CA 95060 Phone: 831.423.2263 Email: Service area: California
Ripple Riley Thomas 2559 Grosse Ave. Santa Rosa, CA 95404 Phone: 707.569.7377 Service area: California
Veritable Vegetable 1100 Cesar Chavez Street Santa Francisco, CA 94124 Phone: 415.641.3500 Fax: 415.641.3505 Service area: California
Service Area: South
Grayson Natural Foods, LLC Gary Mitchell, Managing Partner Phone: 276.773.3712 or 276.768.8768 Service area: SW Virginia & NW North Carolina and would consider other distribution areas
Sustainable Food Center 1106 Clayton Lane, Suite 480W Austin, TX 78723 Phone: 512.236.0074 Fax: 512.236.0098 Email: Service area: Austin, Central Texas
Service Area: Canada
Local Food Plus 1965 Queen Street East, Suite 2 Toronto, Ontario M4L 1H9 Phone: 416.699.6070 Email: Service area: Canada
- The Campus Kitchens Project
- Food Security Learning Center farm-to-cafeteria page
- National Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture
- Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA)
- Sustainable Agriculture Education Association
- Sustainable Foodservice Consulting
- Offers free information and tools to help businesses implement sustainable practices.
- Sustainable Table
- Community Food Security Coalition
- FoodRoutes farm-to-college page
- National Association of College and University Food Services
- National Farm to School home page
- Real Food Challenge
- Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE)
- The College Sustainability Report Card
- Provides in-depth sustainability profiles for hundreds of colleges in all 50 U.S. States and Canada
- Farm-To-Cafeteria Listserv
- To log on to the Farm to School/Farm to College Yahoo! Groups email list, go to: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/nationalfarmtocafeteria. You can read the archives, or to join, click on "Join this Group" in the top right corner.
- Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) Dining Services Discussion Forum