North Carolina Farm to School


North Carolina school nutrition programs serve millions of meals each year. Farmers interested in selling to schools need to understand how they do business, including procurement regulations, food safety requirements and specifications for produce.  Find resources on each of these topics below including a general overview of how school nutrition programs buy produce here

Tomato Plants

Food Safety on the Farm

Food safety is an important part of any farm and should be addressed in a food safety plan. Farmers interested in selling to schools will need to have a food safety audit. Below are resources for farmers to use when developing a food safety plan.

Good Agricultural Practices (GAP)

The NC Farm to School calendar features artwork created by winners of the NC Farm to School art contest. Each day there is a fact about NC agriculture.
Tomato Packing Line

USDA Grades/Grading

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) sets quality standards for fruits and vegetables. These standards are measurable and consider size, cosmetic and internal damage and overall quality of the product. The number of grades varies by crop. Buyers can determine what standards the product they are looking to purchase must meet.

Head of Cabbage

Regulations Schools Follow

School nutrition programs must follow federal, state and local procurement rules. Local procurement rules can differ among districts. School Nutrition Directors are the best source of information for determining the rules they must follow.
Lettuce Field

How to Sell to Schools

Farmers interested in selling to produce to schools need to meet handling and packaging requirements. See the resources below for more information.