Send your farm products to school

Michigan State University assists communities, agricultural producers and school personnel in increasing Michigan foods in the menus of local schools.

Schools food service directors are charged with providing nutritious meals to students at a modest cost. Farmers produce delicious and wholesome fruits, vegetables, grains, meats, eggs and dairy foods right here in Michigan. Why don’t they get together? There are reasons, but people involved with the Michigan farm-to-school movement are working to build relationships between both.

Michigan State University (MSU), in partnership with schools, farmers, parents, non-profit organizations and private industry, is involved through education and facilitation. Colleen Matts and Jekeia Murphy of the CS Mott Group for Sustainable Food Systems at MSU have developed tools and resources for both schools and farmers. They provide training opportunities and technical assistance to help initiate or expand farm to school projects in local communities. The Michigan Farm to School website contains a wealth of materials intended to develop understanding and aid school-farm trade. Find information about the new MI Farm to School Grant Program on the website as well.

As part of this effort, MSU Extension Educators, In partnership with the Mott Group, Kendra Wills, Rita Klavinski and Beth Clawson are hosting a meet and greet event between local growers and food service directors from all over southwest Michigan 1:30 – 3:00 p.m., Tuesday, November 29, 2011 at Lake Michigan College South Haven Campus, 125 Veterans Drive, South Haven, MI 49090. There is no cost to attend this event and growers are encouraged to bring information on their farms and product samples for food service directors to taste. Sign up with Kendra Wills at 616-336-2028 or Wills has conducted several such sessions in western Michigan which have resulted in new business activity in local communities.  

The MSU Product Center, with its network of research, specialized services and one-on-one counseling, also serves to assist agricultural producers to expand their markets to schools. Michigan Market Maker is an online tool for linking agricultural producers, processors, and others with schools and other potential buyers. To learn how farmers can create more value for their products through further processing, cooperatives, marketing and more visit the MSU Product Center website.


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