Distribution Strategies for Developing Farm-to-School Connections

Project Overview

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2006: $9,784.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2008
Grant Recipient: Michigan State University
Region: North Central
State: Michigan
Graduate Student:
Faculty Advisor:
Mike Hamm
Community, Agriculture, Recreation & Resource Stud

Annual Reports


  • Fruits: apples
  • Vegetables: asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower


  • Farm Business Management: marketing management, new enterprise development

    Proposal abstract:

    Farm-to-school (FTS) is a potential market opportunity for small and medium-sized farmers. However, little is known about the conditions under which FTS is profitable for the farmer while feasible within the budget constraints of school food service. According to one financial evaluation of FTS, direct relationships with schools have not proved to be profitable for farmers. Some FTS programs have increased procurement of locally grown foods by using intermediate distribution structures. As more schools try to source locally grown food for their school meals program, such structures will become necessary. The purpose of this research project is to develop and analyze three supply chain models for distributing locally grown foods into K-12 public schools. Through in-depth interviews with FTS stakeholders (farmers, food service directors, distributors and shippers/wholesalers) this research will analyze the economic and social (e.g. educational objectives, positive public relations, etc.) opportunities and trade-offs of each model. It is anticipated that differences will emerge based on the size and scale of the farm and/or food service operation. Research outcomes include increased knowledge of the conditions under which FTS connections have potential for long-term success, development of more sustainable connections among FTS stakeholders, creation of viable market opportunities for small- and medium-size farmers and increased opportunities for school children to consume locally grown fruits and vegetables. Outputs expected from this research project include interviews with FTS stakeholders, scholarly publications, presentations at conferences and workshops and development of outreach materials for FTS stakeholders. Progress towards completion of this project and attainment of short-term outcomes and outputs will be measured using indicators at each stage of research.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Objective 1

    To use qualitative research methods to analyze different supply chain models for distributing locally grown foods in K-12 public schools in Michigan and in New York.

    Objective 2

    To use qualitative research methods to better understand the conditions around which farm-to-school connections will be profitable for farmers and beneficial for school food service directors.

    Objective 3

    To develop outreach materials based on research findings to assist farmers, school food service directors and other stakeholders in making long-term farm-to-school connections.

    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.