Selling to Kentucky Schools

There are three primary supply-chain models for getting food from producers to schools:

  • Intermediate market channels, such as local retail outlets, food hubs, and regional distributors.
  • National wholesale distributors, including foodservice management companies, USDA food distribution programs, and broadline (prime vendor) distributors.
  • Direct to school sales. This can be accomplished by selling directly to school districts or to collective purchasing cooperatives and buying groups.

For a broader discussion about intermediate market channels and national wholesale distributors, read Module 2 of Bringing the Farm to School Producer Workbook.

Food hubs and food auctions can be located using the “Search” button on this website.

Direct to School Sales

The “Search” function on this website is designed to help producers and school purchasers locate one another. You may locate food service directors located near you, read about their school operations, and contact them directly. Likewise, if you have registered on this website, you may be contacted by school foodservice directors who are interested in purchasing from you. Either way, the school foodservice director will provide product standards and specifications to include:

  • Product and variety
  • Quality standards and size
  • Quantity and pack size

Links to examples of specifications are available under “Helpful forms” in the box to the right.

In addition to product specifications, schools will also have specific vendor requirements. Some of the requirements are mandatory, while others may be particular to the school district. Some typical vendor requirements include:

  • Post-harvest handling practices, such as harvest and wash station procedure, product traceability and labeling information, and packing requirements.
  • Food safety practices, such as certification programs (PBPT), required facilities (wash stations or cold storage) and documented foodsafety plans.
  • Insurance and licenses, such as product liability insurance, auto insurance (for delivery), or business licenses.
  • Payment systems, to include invoicing requirements, payment schedules and lag times, and registration in required vendor systems.
  • Distribution logistics, such as delivery locations, schedules, and equipment requirements.

Information about food safety training is available under the Resources section of this website.

Kentucky Proud Membership

A primary function of the Office of Agricultural Marketing is to “promote the sale of Kentucky-grown products locally and in domestic and international markets.” The Kentucky Proud marketing program assists Kentucky producers in marketing Kentucky grown, processed or manufactured agricultural products. Members have the opportunity to apply for promotional grants and benefit from brand recognition. The Kentucky Proud Promotional Program membership application and agreement can be found here.

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Agricultural Service Providers of Kentucky
USDA Local Food Hub Directory
  • The Food Hub Directory lists businesses or organizations that actively manage the aggregation, distribution, and marketing of source-identified food products to multiple buyers from multiple producers, primarily local and regional producers, to strengthen the ability of these producers to satisfy local and regional wholesale, retail, and institutional demand. Search for food hubs near you by distance or zip code:
Produce Auctions
  • A produce auction is a wholesale market outlet for local farm and greenhouse products. Fresh produce, as well as a variety of other agricultural products, is offered for sale to the highest bidder. For more information about produce auctions, visit the University of Kentucky Center for Crop Diversification website:
  • The following produce auctions operated in Kentucky during 2020:
    • Bath County Produce Auction
    • Casey County Produce Auction
    • Fairview Produce Auction (Christian County)
    • Hart County Produce Auction
    • Lincoln County Produce Auction
    • Speck Ridge Produce Auction (Taylor County)
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