Research, Create, and Market Allergy-Friendly Food for Institutions Using Local Vegetables, Fruit, Proteins and Value-added Products to Increase Small Farm Sales

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2019: $27,000.00
Projected End Date: 02/28/2021
Grant Recipient: Pat & Rachel's Gardens
Region: North Central
State: Kansas
Project Coordinator:
Dr. James Leek
Pat & Rachels Gardens LLC

Information Products


Not commodity specific


  • Crop Production: food processing, food processing facilities/community kitchens, food product quality/safety
  • Education and Training: on-farm/ranch research
  • Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns, farm-to-institution, value added
  • Sustainable Communities: food hubs

    Proposal summary:

    Schools are struggling to meet dietary restrictions. Farms are struggling to achieve profitability;According to ATTRA $.17 of each food dollar supports a farmer, half of its' 1980 value.  There is a critical need for allergen-free meals, according to Warrensburg School Food Service Director, Heather Wirsig. There are 52 Warrensburg students with allergy restrictions; currently their meals are purchased from grocery stores. “Finding safe food for 1% of the school population is my biggest challenge,” stated Wirsig. As some of these students receive free or reduced price lunch, the district must provide safe meals- no matter the cost. We intend to create value-added products using farm fresh foods, in a category where farms could easily fill the demand. Within our farmer cooperative, we have allergy friendly commercial kitchens- both existing and planned.

    Our 2018 SARE grant FNC18-1133 researched the mechanics of processing value-added foods safely. Building on that knowledge, Pat & Rachel's Gardens, in cooperation with KC Food Hub members, will research recipes demanded by institutions seeking specific allergen-free food. By using locally-grown products in a category where we can supply the need, we can help farms increase economic viability by improving the quality of life for people in our communities.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    1. Identify crops products Kansas City Food Hub farmer/owners will have available for value-added allergy free meals.
    2. Identify needs in our local institutions for allergy-free menu items.
    3. Develop standardized recipes using available local products while researching
    4. Develop methodology for procuring best pricing for supplies and ingredients.
    5. Finalize recipes using fresh, processed, preserved, or frozen products.
    6. Make prototypes of products for sharing with institutions.
    7. Test the market for the value-added finished products, and potentially the recipes with their corresponding locally-grown products to institutions thereby increase viability of our farmer members.
    8. Share findings through the KC Food Hub website, annual meeting, and conferences.


    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.