Buy Local

Local Sourcing Options

Large volume buyers have many options for sourcing local Wisconsin produce and value added products:

1. Source local through a distributor

Keep asking your primary vendor for local! Distributors need to know that there is a demand. Be sure to discuss with a distributor how you define local. Do you want produce from Wisconsin, the Midwest, or 100 miles from your institution?

2. Buy from a local produce auction

Wisconsin produce auctions aggregate produce from local growers, resulting in a diverse selection of high quality product at wholesale prices. You do not have to attend the auction to buy – you can place an order by phone and the auction Order Buyer will purchase for you.

3. Purchase farm direct

Some institutions purchase directly from a farm or farm cooperative because they receive high quality products with a personal connection. Be sure to review your regulations (refrigeration, insurance, billing) with the grower. Contact us for information about farms near you.

4. Find local producers through Something Special from Wisconsin™

The Something Special from Wisconsin™ program lists producers of vegetables, dairy, meat, cheese, milk, eggs, yogurt and other more in their directory. These great Wisconsin items are all marked with the SSfW logo – a great way to highlight local product to your customers.

5. Partner with REAP Food Group's Farm to Business program.

REAP's Farm to Business program works to promote the use of lcoal, sustainable food, increase the success of food and farm businesses across Southern Wisconsin, and build lasting, sustainable relationships between producers, buyers and consumers.

6. Buy local food online through Local Dirt

Bid on local produce online! The website works like eBay for produce. It’s easy to use and may score you a great deal!

How food service directors use local produce

"Replace what you are already currently using and processing with locally grown when in season, such as Waldorf and tossed salads, soups, omelets, quiche, casseroles."

"Integrate sourced items into your recipe files, and use them in your salad bar or as fresh cooked vegetables."

"Pick one item and create a signature dish around it."

"We use fresh summer offerings on the salad bar, or on the steam table and often in our prepared salads for our cafeteria customers and for our patients."

"Fresh fruits, vegetables and salads, cooked vegetable of the day, potato menu items, side dishes, etc."

"We created oven browned potatoes, cucumber salad, corn on the cob, and a vegetarian chili. We also use pumpkins for carving activities"

Sue Liebenstein, St. Mary's Hospital; Emmy Benson, Mendota Mental Health, with their local foods poster featuring Badgerland Produce Auction at the Wisconsin Dietetic Association Conference 2009. Photograph courtesy of Kathryn Lederhause.
IFM Events

IFM hosts educational opportunities for food buyers to start or expand local sourcing. Check back often for upcoming events.

New to local sourcing?

Local Sourcing 101: A Checklist for Food Service Directors
Download this IFM checklist, which is meant to help you answer some simple but important questions about local sourcing so you can identify realistic goals and next steps. Understanding the right questions to ask will also enable you to communicate more effectively with co-workers, supervisors and staff about why you want to source local food.

Host a Local Food Networking Meeting

We created this fact sheet to help you get started! Creating opportunities for buyers and sellers to meet in person is essential to increasing local food sales on a large volume level.

Tell the local food story to your customers

These institutions don’t just serve local, they let their customers know all about it! See how they highlight local food on their menus for ideas on how you can do it too! It can be as simple as listing the origins of ingredients.

Buying local produce
Local food safety

No known produce recalls have come from a Wisconsin family farm. Food safety is a must for local growers because their livelihood depends on their reputation, and farm families consume their own produce. To meet your institution’s food safety requirements, you may want to ask a grower for a written food safety plan. Use this Evaluating Food Safety Practices at Local Produce Farms Checklist from DATCP to guide your expectations.

 Writing internal protocols for your foodservice about local food and food safety may help ensure staff and administrators are all on the same page about what is acceptable. For example, do you require GAP, or simply a written food safety plan? If you have an example of such a policy, we would love to post it!

Local food headlines

What’s new with IFM, local food in Wisconsin, and the rest of the country? Check out these local food articles.

Background information on local food
In your kitchen
Local foods protocol
  • Local grower protocol template
    Download a sample producer protocol sheet. A protocol sheet for supplier of local food that an institution works with can help keep critical information about ordering from that farmer or distributor together and prevent disruptions in supply.
  • Guide to Developing a Sustainable Food Purchasing Policy
    Download this guide to help make local food part of your institution’s purchasing policy.
  • Memo: Schools are allowed to buy local food
    Do you need to show that your school can legally purchase local produce? Download this memo from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction that explains that schools are allowed to buy locally grown fresh, whole, raw fruits and vegetables and/or accept donations of those items.
Wisconsin local food initiatives
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