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Buying Direct from Farms

Food service staff can buy directly from individual farmers. Many school food service directors from around the Washington State have initiated purchasing relationships with farmers and buy directly from those farmers. Below are a variety of farm lists and resources to help you connect with farmers you!

Statewide & Regional Farm Listings

Farm Finder by Washington State University Food Systems Team is an online directory and search engine that identify the farms/producers who meet your needs. Simply choose a crop you are looking to buy, location, and the market type, and the directory gives you a list of farms/producers with their contact info. If you know the farm name, you can search by the name to find out what they grow/raise.

Farm Finder by Puget Sound Fresh (PSF) is an online directory of farmer members of the Puget Sound Fresh network. PSF is going beyond Puget Sound region and moving to cover whole state.

 

Contact WSDA Farm to School for help finding and contacting farms in your region, finding suppliers for specific products, menu planning with local products, procurement, and more.



Buying from Farmer Co-ops & Food Hubs

Food hubs can help schools and institutions find and buy from multiple farms at once, and provide distribution, invoicing, and other services for farms and buyers.

 Puget Sound Food Hub Co-op (PSFH Co-op) is a network of farms and partners operating cooperatively in the Puget Sound region of Washington State to market, aggregate and distribute locally produced food from farm to institutions such as restaurants, hospitals, preschools, universities, etc. as well as to grocery stores. PSFH is a farmer-owned co-op, and some member farms provide minimally processed products (such as frozen and fresh cut products) through PSFH.
Delivery Area: Whatcom, Skagit, Island, Snohomish, and King Counties.
 

 LINC Foods sells locally produced fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, meats, cheeses, and eggs to schools, colleges, universities, hospitals, retirement communities, restaurants, and grocery stores from 45 family farmers. It is a one-stop shop for local, sustainable food. All of the products available through LINC Foods are grown by farmer-owners in the Spokane area in Washington State. LINC Foods also has minimally processed products (washing, slicing, dicing, peeling, etc.)
Delivery Area: Spokane County
 

 Okanogan Producers Marketing Association (OPMA) is six small farms working together, sharing resources, equipment, knowledge, expertise, marketing and sales of Okanogan County grown treefruit and berries. Dried fruit also available.
Delivery Area: King, Pierce, Thurston, Whatcom, Spokane Counties
 

395 Produce Corridor delivers fruits and vegetables from 10 small farmers in Stevens county.
Delivery Area: Stevens, Ferry, Spokane Counties
 

 Farmstand Local Foods links urban commercial customers to the diverse range of ingredients from farms in King & Snohomish Counties using a modern, convenient ordering and delivery system.
Delivery Area: King County


Purchasing Through a Distributor

Your distributor likely carries Washington grown producers already. Food service staff can work with a distributor to identify and purchase from local farms. Since food service directors already purchase from brokers or distributors, this allows them to maintain an existing relationship, as well as purchase other items that farmers are not able to provide. This method also allows for centralized billing, delivery and payment. But many small farmers don't sell through distributors, and it can be difficult to find or identify what products are Washington grown, or from where.

Start by contacting your current distributor(s) to talk about purchasing more local and Washington grown products from them. 

Watch this webinar from USDA Farm to School: Working with Distributors


DOD Fresh & USDA Foods

DOD Fresh can be a resource for purchasing local fruits and vegetables. The USDA Department of Defense Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (USDA DoD Fresh) is available to schools in 48 States, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. The Using DoD Fresh to Purchase Local Produce fact sheet provides good information on how to use USDA DoD Fresh.

See the current DOD Fresh distributors on the OSPI Child Nutrition website.

USDA Foods has a dual mission of supporting domestic agriculture and providing healthy foods to schools. Offerings include a wide variety of high quality fruits, vegetables, dairy products, whole grains, lean meats, and other protein options. Check out the USDA Foods: A Resource for Buying Local factsheet learn how USDA Foods support the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the school meal pattern requirements to make it easier for schools to prepare healthy meals. OSPI Child Nutrition - Food Distribution lists which processors and brokers are supplying various USDA Foods items to schools in Washington State.


Other Sources

There are many other sources of local foods that schools are using, including:

Contact WSDA Farm to School for help pursuing any of these options, or finding the right one for you!