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 LocalDirt.com 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"
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.
- Sauk Prairie Memorial Hospital menu – their room service menu includes a statement on the their commitment to local
- Mendota Mental Health Institute “Partners in Giving” menu - this is a special menu for a fundraiser event
Buying local produce
- Need to convert pounds to bushels? Check out these helpful tables from University of North Carolina and University of Arkansas!
- Seasonal Availability of Wisconsin Produce
Download this chart that shows the seasonal availability of more than 50 crops, made available by the Farm Fresh Atlas of Southeast Wisconsin.
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
- Why Local? Factsheet
Read about the great things your local sourcing promotes.
- Define Local Food for Your Institution
This fact sheet can help you come up with a local food definition to suit your needs in order to help you communicate with local food suppliers and customers about local food
- Local food promotes cleaner air
Download this Leopold Center fact sheet about the how local food reduces air pollution.
- Local food promotes economic development
Read about how your purchases help our economy.
- Read what the Dietetic Association says about local food
In your kitchen
- Fresh From the Farm: Massachusetts Farm to School Cookbook
- This PDF includes 45 recipes that feature local produce. While designed with Massachusetts in mind, the same kind of produce grows in Wisconsin.
- Tips for using seasonal produce
Find simple snack and recipe ideas for different seasonal produce items on REAP’s Harvest of the Month webpage. Their produce factsheets also include educational information – great for marketing materials of incorporating local food into curriculum!
- Fruit and vegetable serving sizes and yields
Download this USDA guide that includes conversions of fresh produce into portion sizes.
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
- Dane County Food Council
- Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction Farm to School
- Agricultural Innovation Center
- Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems
- Farmer Chef Connection
- Grocers Buy Local
- Madison Area Community Supported Agricultural Commission
- Michael Fields Agricultural Institute
- REAP Food Group
- Something Special from Wisconsin™
- Wisconsin Local Food Network
- Local Dirt