Nebraska Market Meetups
Local Food for Schools Virtual Market Meetup – January 16, 2024
The Nebraska Department of Education and Nebraska Extension will host a virtual Market Meetup on January 16, 2024 at 3pm Central. Invitations to attend are extended to school food authorities that opted in to receive Local Food for Schools (LFS) funding for the 2023-2024 school year along with interested area producers, i.e. Nebraska or within 400 miles from eastern NE schools. The Market Meetup is an opportunity for schools and producers to connect, network, and discuss options around local food purchasing utilizing these funds. Register here
Eastern Nebraska Market Meetups
The Nebraska Department of Education hosted three Market Meetups across the Eastern portion of Nebraska. The overall goal of the Market Meetups is to grow connections and purchasing relationships that support the use of the Local Foods for Schools Program (LFS) funding.
These events consisted of two segments: a training for producers interested in learning about the school procurement process, and the second was a Market Meetup, intended for food purchasers and school buyers to connect and network. The Market Meetup consisted of “speed dating” where producers and schools cycled through each participant to identify potential local school and food connections. Producers and schools were able to have an in-depth conversation around what foods schools are looking to purchase, seasonality and the school year, and food safety requirements all while making meaningful connections.
Read the USDA’s newsletter “The Dirt”, where the Nebraska Department of Education’s Omaha Market Meetup was highlighted!
Market Meetup November 30, 2021
On November 30, 2021 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!
Market Meetup November 30, 2021 Recording
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