Massachusetts Farm to School can help you connect with school or institutional food services that are interested in buying locally grown products. We can provide information about this market sector and help you ask the right questions to determine profitability and viability.
What are Farm to Institution Sales?
Institutions with cafeterias, such as K-12 schools, colleges, and hospitals, increasingly want to purchase locally grown products. Their purchasing can take many forms: some institutions buy directly from a farm while others purchase through a conventional distributor. Many institutional buyers want to develop a long-term purchasing relationship with a local farm. Institutions buy a wide range of products, from apples and carrots to eggs, dairy, and meat. We can provide you with information about some of the most commonly purchased items as well as new trends in institutional purchasing.
Why Start Now?
- While schools or hospitals don’t pay retail prices, they often pay a better price than “regular” wholesale customers
- They can be reliable customers who pay their bills and promote your farm in the cafeteria
- The demand is enormous
- The number of school districts in Massachusetts preferentially purchasing locally grown foods has risen from 12 to over 200 in the last few years
Are Farm to Institution Sales Right for My Farm?
You don’t have to answer “yes” to all these questions, but they are important to consider when you begin to evaluate institutional sales:
- Do you already wholesale?
- Do you sell to food distributors, stores, or other farmers?
- Do you have the ability to communicate regularly with schools and track orders?
- Do you have the capacity to deliver or arrange for deliveries?
- Do you have a diversified product list or the ability to buy local product from other growers? How does the school calendar fit with your current harvest season?
- Are you prepared to meet potential insurance or safe agricultural practices requirements?
- Can you provide any light processing of farm products for schools with limited kitchen equipment?
Ready to Take the Next Step with Institutional Sales?
Contact us to get started:
In Central & Western Massachusetts
Farm to Cafeteria Coordinator
In Eastern Massachusetts
Farm to Cafeteria Director
Food Service Interview Form
If you are meeting with an institutional customer, this form may help you to evaluate whether the customer is a good fit for your farm business. View and Download
Lists of the institutions in Massachusetts that are already purchasing locally grown foods.
Farmer ID Card
Use this ID Card to ensure that all boxes of your produce arrive at the school with your farm name clearly identified. View and Download
Farmer Resource Guide – Selling to Institutional Customers
This guide will help you evaluate the institutional sales market and determine if selling to institutions is right for your farm. View and Download