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:
- Identify crops products Kansas City Food Hub farmer/owners will have available for value-added allergy free meals.
- Identify needs in our local institutions for allergy-free menu items.
- Develop standardized recipes using available local products while researching
- Develop methodology for procuring best pricing for supplies and ingredients.
- Finalize recipes using fresh, processed, preserved, or frozen products.
- Make prototypes of products for sharing with institutions.
- 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.
- Share findings through the KC Food Hub website, annual meeting, and conferences.