Publications & Resources

School Food FOCUS Toolkit

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Exploring Regional Produce Procurement in Detroit Public Schools

FOCUS partnered with the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service on a cooperative agreement to enhance the regional produce procurement capacity of Detroit Public Schools (DPS). The goals of the project were to create benefits to producers through new market opportunities and to schoolchildren through increased access to healthy fresh foods. FOCUS researched DPS current channels for regional produce and identified ways to enhance the district’s capacity to procure fruits and vegetables regionally.

Eating Our Peas and Carrots: Strategies for Expanding K-12 Access to Fruits and Vegetables through Supply Chain Innovation

This FOCUS report details the dynamics that influence the use of fruits and vegetables in K-12 settings and the supply chains that currently provide produce to the large, urban school districts of the Upper Midwest Regional Learning Lab.  The analysis highlights strategies to expand these districts’ access to affordable, quality produce, with a focus on opportunities for investment by philanthropic organizations.

Produce Request for Information The historic procurement data of the Upper Midwest Regional Learning Lab was used to inform deliberations and create a Request for Information (RFI). With a primary interest in regionally grown fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables, the RFI targets both Grade A product and cosmetically imperfect seconds (or “unsized non-Grade A” produce). The latter is typically produce that is perfectly edible and of high quality but does not meet the prevailing market standards for size, shape, color or other cosmetic attributes. We are excited to share this RFI with our stakeholders.

Maximizing Government Resources

Learn more about bringing geographic preference to your district: Geographic Preference Primer

Learnings from the Lab

Step-by-step overviews of how Learning Lab districts achieved their goals — ready for you to adapt to your own district.

  • ChickenHow Saint Paul Public Schools and Chicago Public Schools introduced fresh, scratch cooked drums and leg quarters.
  • CheeseLowering the sodium and cleaning up ingredient labels in processed (American) cheese.
  • ProduceHow Saint Paul Public Schools increased quantities of fresh, local produce served to kids.
  • MilkHow Saint Paul Public Schools collaborated with vendors and other districts to reduce the sugar content of flavored milks.
  • BreadHow Saint Paul Public Schools collaborated with a national bread vendor to create 53% whole grain hamburger, hot dog, and hoagie buns.
  • Vendor QuestionsQuestions to ask your vendors to reach your goals of procurement change.

Science briefs

Bread science brief


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Maximize Your Procurement Dollars through Regional Purchasing: School Food and Forward Contracting Forward contracting establishes a price to be paid for a certain quantity of product to be provided at a future date. Learn how forward contracting can help maximize your procurement budget and support local farmers at the same time. Speakers will highlight the benefits and challenges of forward contracting school food and demonstrate how to write forward contracts.


Christina Conell, Program Analyst, USDA Food and Nutrition Service

Sara Pollock Hoverter, Senior Fellow and Adjunct Professor, Harrison Institute for Public Law at Georgetown Law

Andrea Northup, Farm to School Coordinator, Culinary & Nutrition Services, Minneapolis Public Schools

Additional Resources

Resource Guide for Changing School Food Procurement: created for our Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW) Mentorship Program

Fostering Partnerships in Supplying Large School Districts: a summary of the article, “Value Chains for Sustainable Procurement in Large School Districts: Fostering Partnerships.” from the Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems and Community Development