Nebraska Market Meetups
On November 30, 2021 we held a successful first Market Meetup session. An event summary is below. We are planning to hold additional Market Meetups based on participant survey results. Dates and details will be announced on this site.
The Nebraska Market Meetup aims to:
- Provide space to jointly share, learn, and innovate in the topic of local food supply and access;
- Directly link buyers and sellers to facilitate connections and purchasing relationships;
- Collect information to create a strategic plan to move forward with partners in strengthening our local food system and local food access.
On November 30, ninety-one Nebraska school nutrition service representatives, farmers, local food suppliers, and state and federal agency representatives joined a virtual Market Meetup to discuss school food supply chain issues. The goal was to identify potential local school and food connections in order to mitigate the impact of supply chain disruptions while establishing mutually beneficial relationships between schools and local producers and suppliers.
Participants joined regional breakout rooms for discussion and common themes emerged:
- Schools face an inconsistent supply of product from distributors, leading to “on-the-fly” adaptations to service menus
- Schools desire to make connections to local producers and require some level of technical assistance to make those connections
- Producers desire consistent ordering from schools and significant quantity and diversity of product; this impacts feasibility of delivery and distribution
- Continued discussion is needed surrounding topics of seasonality and the school year, and labor shortages effects on schools’ purchasing of unprocessed fruits and vegetables
Benefits of the Meetup included real connections made between schools and producers; when able to converse together, the impossibility of sourcing local seemed to melt away. Plans were made by several schools and producers for follow up connections- there was an element of surprise that several of these schools have neighboring producers that could supply to the school!
During School Year 2021-2022, USDA is offering flexibilities in response to public health needs and to ease administrative burden, while still promoting nutritious meals. Learn more about adjusting meal service operations during the dynamic school year ahead.
- USDA’s Planning for a Dynamic School Environment webpage
- USDA Team Nutrition: School Meals Supply Chain Issues
Finding Local Producers:
- Nebraska MarketMaker: Schools and producers add profiles to expedite making connections.
- Buy Fresh Buy Local Nebraska, discover local food producers and suppliers that are members of this
- Nebraska Department of Agriculture Farmers Market and Produce Vendor Search
- Nebraska Extension Regional Food Systems Initiative, join the listserv.
- Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society, join the listserv.
Report your school’s local purchases with USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) by contacting John Goetz at firstname.lastname@example.org or 515-284-4460. This data assists our state with demonstrating the increasing demand for locally grown products and offers a snapshot to schools across the state as to prices being paid for Nebraska products.