Prioritize Healthy Eating in Schools

All students deserve access to tasty and nutritious foods. Schools should be able to tap into vibrant regional food systems to bring local, healthy foods into the cafeteria. But, local sourcing can be a challenge. From tracking down farms to ensuring quality and figuring out payment plans and delivery, it can be hard to make local food a priority.

That’s where the Common Market comes in. With over 15 years of partnering with schools and experience aggregating and distributing local foods, we take the hard parts of buying local off your plate. We find the farms, verify the safety and quality of the food, help you tell the story of our products, and take care of billing and delivery. You spend more time making healthy meals for students, teaching them about where food comes from, and enjoying the benefits of local, healthy food.

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Why Local?

Local sourcing makes it possible for schools to provide good, fresh, local food to students and families. When schools source locally, they’re able to support equitable economic development by creating more market opportunities for local farmers and producers. Building relationships between schools and farmers strengthens students’ knowledge and attitudes toward agriculture, food, nutrition, and the environment. And, it increases their consumption of healthy foods like fruits and vegetables!

The Common Market makes sourcing local, healthy food for schools fun, flexible, and delicious!

At the Common Market, we are reliable, and make getting local, healthy food in schools easier by:

  • Picking up the food from the farmer and delivering it right to your site
  • Creating strict food safety protocols including HACCP plans, recall plans, and everyday quality checks
  • Using a streamlined payment process with flexible billing plans designed to work for you
  • Being an approved vendor with major food service providers and having the agility to work with independent districts
  • Partnering with schools for both informal and formal purchasing opportunities (Quick tip: For best practices for incorporating values, like local, diversity and equity and climate, into your contracts, check out our procurement resource!)
  • Providing farm, city, and state of origin information on every box to make it easy to verify and identify local sources for funding and reporting purposes
  • Producing marketing materials such as farmer profiles, flyers, and tray line cards to help you tell the stories behind the food
  • Creating connections between our farms and your students (Meet your farmer in this Farm to School video!)
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Farm To School Possibilities

Farm to School Possibilities

The Common Market supports integrating local food into schools both inside and outside of the cafeteria.

Inside the cafeteria we can support:

  • Harvest of the Month - This program is a great way to introduce local sourcing to your district by offering a specific fruit or vegetable feature each month. We source the food and provide marketing materials to help get your staff and students excited about eating local.
  • Recipe Highlights - Offer a locally-focused dish or entire tray. Featuring local food in this way is a great community builder.
  • Custom Menus for Special Events - Offer a local food day or local food week to drive interest in local sourcing. Farm to School Month and Earth Day is the perfect opportunity to celebrate local!
  • Taste Testing - Everyone loves to try new local foods! Taste test days are always popular in the schools we work with.
  • And, beyond!

Outside the cafeteria we can support:

  • Farm-Fresh Box Distribution - Let students take home a pre-packaged, family-size box of fresh, local food.
  • Wrap-Around Services - Use local food to provide supplemental nutrition support for families in need in your district.
  • After School Programming - Bring local food into afterschool programming and use it to teach basic culinary skills and math, and create connections to your local agricultural community.

How To Get Local Food for Your Schools

We make healthy eating in schools as easy as possible. Here’s how it works:

  1. Connect with our team–simply fill out our interest form below!
  2. Create a partnership between your school and The Common Market
  3. Browse our local availability list and delivery plan for your region
  4. Place your order of healthy, local food
  5. Get your order delivered directly to your site
  6. Use The Common Market marketing materials to promote local food and track your impact
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Our Farm to School Partners

The Common Market has partnered with close to 500 public, private and charter schools across the country to bring local, healthy food into cafeterias. Our partners include programs managed by major food service providers as well as self-operated operations:

  • Alief Independent School District (TX)
  • Aramark at Fort Worth Independent School District (TX)
  • Austin Independent School District (TX)
  • Camden City School District (NJ)
  • Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District (TX)
  • Fairfax County Public Schools (VA)
  • Jackson County Schools (GA)
  • Manor Independent School District (TX)
  • Newark Public Schools (NJ)
  • Sodexo and DC Central Kitchen at District of Columbia Public Schools (DC)
  • The Equity Project Charter School (NY)
  • Meridian School (TX)
  • KIPP Austin (TX)
  • Plus: regional Farm to School initiatives such as Jersey Fresh Farm to School, Alabama Farm to School Month, the Texas Farm-Fresh Challenge, and Illinois Farm to School Coalitions
  • and many more!

Hear from our Team and Farm to School Partners

The Common Market is helping schools leverage Local Food for Schools (LFS) Funding

A new program from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Local Food in Schools (LFS), provides dedicated funds to connect school food operations with local farmers, ranchers and producers across the state.

The funding opportunity is a tremendous way to build new relationships with producers, generate excitement in school cafeterias, and utilize school districts’ purchasing power to drive meaningful economic impact across the local food system.

The Common Market has supported more than 40+ school districts across 3+ states receiving LFS funding to connect their communities to local farms.

NJ: Getting Started: Local Food for Schools (LFS) + The Common Market

Learn how to get set up and start using your New Jersey Local Food for Schools (LFS) funds today! In this brief, 10-minute informational webinar, Katie Barr, Outreach Coordinator for The Common Market Mid-Atlantic, lifts up how NJ schools and food service can access what is available for order from our local, Jersey farms, what quick documentation is required to become a partner, and how to place your orders for your first local food delivery! The Common Market has composed a special New Jersey ordering guide for your ordering needs. However, be sure to inquire about our full Availability List, which includes options from farmers and producers from across the region (PA, NY, DE, MD, VA)!

Advancing School Food Procurement Resource

This resource is intended to inspire all schools interested in shifting toward or advancing their values-based procurement and sourcing practices.

  • Case studies and tangible tips
  • Findings from a series of expert interviews (including school nutrition directors, food service management company staff, university extension agents, and others)
  • An extensive review of solicitation language to better understand how districts across the country are incorporating their school meal values into procurement practices!

Farm to School with The Common Market

Explore ways to introduce students to the stories and farmers behind their food, and much more in this fun, informational webinar:

  • Go Local: Learn what it means to work with a local food vendor.
  • Understand options and innovative solutions: from feeding remote learners to Harvest of the Month programs.
  • Engage with Farm to School players, and hear their experiences!
  • Get ready for Farm to School Month with fun marketing ideas.
  • Connect with local farmers!

Let’s Work Together

The Common Market is committed to your local sourcing success. Our friendly and educated team is here to partner with you and your food service team every step of the way. Connect with us today to learn how to make local sourcing part of your school food program.