Bridging the Gap Between Farmers and Food Service Directors: The Social Challenges in Farm to School Purchasing
AbstractFarm to school programs in which primary and secondary schools purchase locally grown products for school lunches aim to increase children's consumption of fresh foods while creating new markets for local food producers. However, the institutional purchasing of local foods can be fraught with difficulties. Many scholars have explored the structural challenges of local purchasing associated with cost, supply, and distribution. Less well examined are the ways that the different viewpoints and knowledge of farm to school participants affect procurement. This reflective essay provides a case study of local food purchasing at one medium-sized Midwestern public school district. Ethnographic examination of this process shows that local food farmers and school food service buyers have vastly different approaches to food production and handling. Attending to the social barriers of farm to school purchasing may improve participation by both farmers and food service directors.
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