Increasing Access to Fresh, Local Produce in Schools and Hospitals
Farm to School is a strategy to improve student nutrition by including fresh local fruits and vegetables in school meals, while having the co-benefit of supporting local, small-scale farms. Get Healthy SMC has worked with the Community Alliance with Family Farmers and local school districts over the last several years to help to facilitate implementation of farm-to-school programs. Since 2013 CAFF has worked with San Mateo County schools to increase the amount of local produce they purchase by $431,000 (estimate reported by CAFF). In order to serve more school districts and other large institutions such as hospitals, Get Healthy SMC supported CAFF to create a bid-generator. The bid-generator will allow large institutions to develop custom bids to purchase local produce using an online tool rather than having to manually develop the bids. The bid-generator has the potential to be a game-changing innovation in food procurement and get more people healthy, local produce. CAFF is currently finalizing the Bid Toolkit, which will support the utilization of the bid-generator, and is working with local food service directors to evaluate its effectiveness. CAFF is one step closer to making it much easier for food service directors to buy local produce for their meal programs. Next month’s Get Healthy SMC’s newsletter will include a detailed case study of the work CAFF has done in San Mateo County schools to increase the amount of local produce in school meals.