What are some resources for finding local foods for our school lunch program?

N.T.OhioAnswer: I am pleased to provide you with information regarding resources for accessing local food for your school lunch program. Please see the ATTRA publication, Bringing Local Food to Local Institutions. This publication is an excellent resource for finding other models of successful farm-to-school initiatives. These models can help guide you through any difficulties you may encounter with accessing local foods, your school administration, and with contracts with your current distributor. Below are some local contacts that might be helpful in putting you in touch with farmers and distributors that would be willing to participate in your farm-to-school program.Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association PO Box 82234Columbus OH 43202Phone: 614.421.2022 Fax: 614.421.2011OEFFA is a grassroots coalition of food producers and consumers formed in 1979 to support and promote a healthful, ecological, accountable and permanent agriculture in Ohio and elsewhere. They may be aware of other farm to school initiatives within your state and be able to provide you with some farmers that are in your area and willing to sell to institutions such as yours.Ohio Proud is a campaign started by the Department of Agriculture. They have a directory of farmers that are participating in the program. These farmers most likely would be willing to sell to your institution. You can access this on the internet at the following link:http://www.ohioproud.org/_Apps/Search/Partners.aspxor call the Ohio Proud office to ask for a printed copy of their directory. They may also be able to be a resource for you in other aspects of your farm-to-school initiative. Their contact information is below:OHIO PROUD –Ohio Department of Agriculture8995 East Main Street, Reynoldsburg, OH 43068Call 1-800-IM-PROUD (1-800-467-7683) for more informationInnovative Farmers of Ohio is a regional representative for the National Buy Fresh Buy Local Campaign. It is an organization that largely targets farmers, so they might have a resource list of farmers wanting to sell to institutions such as yours. Their contact information is:Innovative Farmers of Ohio5555 Airport Highway; Suite 100Toledo, Ohio 436151-800-372-6092The Northwest Ohio Fresh NetworkThe Northwest Ohio Fresh Network is a free direct-marketing program for buying and selling local fruits, vegetables, and other locally made products to chefs throughout the food service industry while building long-term business relationships. They have a distribution list of different farms and wholesalers participating in this program. Their contact information is:The Northwest Ohio Fresh Network C/O CIFT;5555 Airport Highway, Ste 100, Toledo, Ohio 43615-7320 419.534.3710 or 877.668.3472 (toll-free)