Farm to Table Store: Meal Programs Encouraged to Buy Fresh and Local

Food service kitchens—including programs serving meals to older adults—are warmly invited to register to purchase local food from the Farm to Table Store, a locally managed website that offers "one stop shopping" for the freshest produce, pastured meats, dairy, etc., in wholesale quantities direct from local Washington farms.

Purchasing Tool

The Farm to Table Store is one of several tools developed through Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW), a grant from Public Health—Seattle & King County, with the goal of increasing access to fresh nutritious foods for senior meal and child care programs (see CDC Awards "Health Champion" Recognition to Farm to Table). Operated by the Northwest Agriculture Business Center an agricultural nonprofit organization, the online store serves institutional meal providers such as hospitals, universities, schools, preschools and senior meal programs, in King, Pierce and Snohomish Counties.

The store's website includes a profile of each farm so buyers can "get to know their farmer" before they buy. Participating farmers and ranchers are approved to sell their products commercially, and they follow strict food safety guidelines and quality production standards. Some producers have licensed processing facilities, which means they can sell products such as cut squash or quartered chickens.

The Farm to Table Store will reopen on March 25 and operate through December 17, 2013 (except holidays). Meal program buyers, to register for a new account, click here.

How it Works

Farmers log in to the online store to update their inventory, pricing, and availability. Registered buyers receive a weekly "fresh sheet" that highlights current offerings, prices, and seasonal specials. Buyers order online, pay with a credit card and choose from the delivery options available. Farmers deliver the orders, within 24 hours of purchase, to 21 Acres Food Hub in Woodinville, where orders are combined with orders from other farms and delivered to customers on one truck.

Farmers like the store because, instead of multiple deliveries to many customers, they now make one delivery to the food hub. The system also streamlines purchasing for buyers; no matter how many different farmers they order from, buyers receive one delivery and make one payment.

Food service customers can efficiently buy local food at affordable wholesale prices. Farmers spend less time driving and more time on the farm. They also reach customers that may otherwise not shop at the farmers market.

The Northwest Agriculture Business Center and its original CPPW grant partners are excited about this opportunity to expand the market for local farmers and to feed those who need good food the most.

Lucy Norris is director of marketing for the Northwest Agriculture Business Center and also manages the Puget Sound Food Network.

The City of Seattle's Food Action Plan, released by Mayor Mike McGinn in 2012, supports efforts like these to increase access to affordable, local, healthy, sustainable, culturally appropriate food for all. The plan includes strategies to increase access to healthy food, expand opportunities to grow food in the City, strengthen local food businesses, and prevent food-related waste. 

Two Farm to Table Announcements Just In!

  1. Northwest Agriculture Business Center, the Snoqualmie Valley Farmers Cooperative, 21 Acres Food Hub and Aging and Disability Services are excited to bring back local produce bags to 100 homebound seniors living in Seattle this summer.  Funded by the Not Yet Foundation, this 12-week program will provide weekly produce grown by a cooperative of organic farms in King County. This program will not only jump-start their new business venture but will help bring the summer's best tasting vegetables and fruits to homebound seniors receiving home-delivered meals.
  2. With the goal of reducing childhood obesity by improving access to healthy food choices and creating new market opportunities for Washington farmers, Cascade Harvest Coalition is leading a pilot project to grow farm to institution connections in childcare, schools, and hospitals in the region. The two-year project, funded with $200,000 from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, builds on current farm-to-institution efforts that have achieved some success in serving affordable, healthy meals within the target market and creating economic development opportunities for farmers and food hubs by connecting them with new markets and contracts. The project brings together diverse partners, including Grow Food, Northwest Agriculture Business Center, Health Care Without Harm, Washington State Department of Agriculture, Kent School District, Slow Money Northwest, and Public Health—Seattle & King County. For this project, Northwest Agriculture Business Center will contribute their expertise in regional food hubs and farm-to-preschool models specifically.