♦ What is DoDFresh?
In 1994, the Department of Defense began offering its produce buying services for institutions other than military bases and installations. Hospitals, schools, and prisons are just some of the institutions to utilize these services. Several years later, at the request of USDA, the DoDFresh Program was developed. This Program buys only from small, family farmers within the state. In 2002 in North Carolina, over one million dollars of produce was purchased from North Carolina growers for North Carolina schools.
♦ How is the program funded?
The funds for the Program come from the Department of Defense Fair Share Entitlement dollars allocated in the 2002 Farm Bill. California’s share is $5,221,012.00. Schools can also use their Section 4 & 11 reimbursable dollars.
♦ How can schools access this program?
Products that are available from local growers can be noted on the offerings used by food service directors, or food service can specifically request products from DoDFresh.
♦ What states participate in DoDFresh?
New Mexico, Kentucky, North Carolina, Michigan, Mississippi, Florida, Georgia, and New Jersey. Illinois and New York are in the development stages.
♦ What is the status of DoDFresh in California?
A group consisting of farmers, farm advisors, CDE staff, DoDFresh staff, the National Farm to School Program, the Community Alliance with Family Farmers, commodity board staff and legislative staff have started a pilot program. This year, DoDFresh bought oranges from two Central Valley growers.
♦ What is needed to expand the program in California?
Having worked out many of the logistical issues, it is time to market this program to food service directors. Many of them are unaware that DoDFresh exists. A coordinated marketing, education and outreach plan is needed to create the demand for California farm products.
♦ What possibilities exist for further partnering?
There is also a great potential for further partnering with the
California 5-A-Day Program, Agriculture in the Classroom, the Department of Food & Agriculture, and other state nutrition programs.
♦ What legislative efforts are afoot to expand funding for this program?
There are a number of legislative proposals as part of the Child Nutrition Reauthorization Bill that would allocate funding for program designed to increase students’fruit and vegetable consumption. There is a proposal by the National Alliance for Nutrition and Activity (NANA) to establish a 10 million grant program, “Healthy Foods for Healthy Kids”, for states and school districts. Another proposal call for a doubling of the DoDFresh Program from 50 million to 100 million dollars. The Community Food Security Coalition also has a draft proposal to create a 10 million-dollar grant program specifically for farm to school programs, with grants available for schools, school districts or non-profit organizations.
Fact Sheet developed by Marion Kalb, National Farm-to-School Program