Farm-to-1,500-urban-school-cafeterias: Feeding NYC Schoolchildren Local Food
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Feeding NYC Schoolchildren Local Food

  • Peaches were among the local foods that KK&P helped get into NYC school lunches.

As part of a broad school food improvement program called SchoolFood Plus, KK&P worked with the NYC Department of Education’s Office of SchoolFood to design and execute a strategy for increasing local food procurement across the district’s roughly 1,500 schools, which serve more than 860,000 meals each day. Specifically, we were charged with accomplishing this while working within the district’s existing purchasing system, bid specifications, food budget, and procurement policies.

In just over three years we successfully brokered deals for more than $5 million of regional foods for NYC schools.

We started by analyzing the volume and dollar value of foods purchased by SchoolFood each year that could be grown or produced in the region. Our findings resulted in a two-pronged strategy: 1) replace products the schools currently use with similar locally grown or processed products, and 2) identify or create new locally grown products that meet the schools’ current unmet needs.

Because frozen and minimally processed foods represented more than half the dollar amount of local procurement potential, because so many NYC school cafeterias were ill-equipped to handle increased fresh product, and because frozen and minimally processed local foods are available year-round, the KK&P team determined that our local procurement strategy would have to engage a number of players, including growers, grower associations, packers, processors, sales agents, brokers, manufacturers, distributors, and diverse SchoolFood leadership, such as the executive chef, executive director, and food technology and procurement directors. We crafted and enacted a role we called “the public interest broker,” a person whose work it is to gain the trust of people across food supply chains, understand their processes, and then facilitate business deals that meet their collective needs.

This work was funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, by a grant to FoodChange.


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