Value Chains for Sustainable Procurement in Large School Districts: Fostering Partnerships


  • David S. Conner University of Vermont
  • Andrew Nowak Slow Food Denver
  • JoAnne Berkenkamp Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
  • Gail W. Feenstra University of California, Davis
  • Julia Van Soelen Kim University of California, Davis
  • Toni Liquori Columbia University
  • Michael W. Hamm Michigan State University



Farm To School, Large School Districts, Participatory Research, Partnerships, Practitioners, School Meals, Urban School Districts, Values-Based Value Chains


Values-based value chains and farm to school programs are two aspects of the alternative agri-food system that have received a great deal of attention recently from scholars and practitioners. This paper chronicles two separate pilot efforts to create value chains for mid-scale farms to supply large school districts' food-service operations with more healthful, local, and sustainably produced foods, using a modified farm to school model. Early farm to school efforts were mostly farm-direct, a model that poses difficulty for large districts, which often require some kind of intermediary to procure the volume and form of products required for the scale of their food-service operations. Value chains have the potential to address this issue, as part of a more broad-based sustainable school food procurement model that can met the needs of large districts. The lessons learned about the various roles scholars and community partners might play in creating, sustaining, and monitoring performance of these value chains are highlighted.


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Author Biographies

David S. Conner, University of Vermont

David Conner, Assistant Professor, Department of Community Development and Applied Economics, 205H Morrill Hall, University of Vermont, Burlington VT 05405 USA; +1-802-656-1965.

Andrew Nowak, Slow Food Denver

Project Director, Seed To Table School Food Program, Slow Food Denver, Denver, CO USA; District Partner for Denver Public Schools.

JoAnne Berkenkamp, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy

Program Director for Local Foods, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Minneapolis, MN USA; District Partner for Saint Paul Public Schools.

Gail W. Feenstra, University of California, Davis

Food Systems Analyst, Agricultural Sustainability Institute, University of California, Davis, CA USA.

Julia Van Soelen Kim, University of California, Davis

Graduate Student Researcher, Agricultural Sustainability Institute, University of California, Davis, CA USA.

Toni Liquori, Columbia University

Adjunct Full Professor, Nutrition Program, Teachers College Columbia University, New York City, NY USA.

Michael W. Hamm, Michigan State University

C.S. Mott Professor of Sustainable Agriculture; Depts. of Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resource Studies, Food Science and Human Nutrition, Crop and Soil Sciences; Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI USA.



How to Cite

Conner, D. S., Nowak, A., Berkenkamp, J., Feenstra, G. W., Van Soelen Kim, J., Liquori, T., & Hamm, M. W. (2011). Value Chains for Sustainable Procurement in Large School Districts: Fostering Partnerships. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 1(4), 55–68.



Food Value Chains Call Papers