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Serving As The Largest Restaurant In Every Community? Think Local Schools.

There is a lot of talk these days about procuring local, nourishing options for schools. Suppliers and health professionals often find the navigation of the who and how nearly insurmountable. Jo Dawson has shown the way, throughout her career, helping create a path for local and regional foods into public programs. She shares her story and insights in our conversation below.

Why are these programs important to access? In her words, the largest restaurants in every community are the public schools. Jo touches on plenty of other, lesser-known programs, equally worthy of accessing to contribute to the nutritional value of the menu, as well as the opportunity for those teaching and facilitating healthy cooking.

There is no doubt for a business owner in health and/or food, it is a commitment to understand the nuances of each state and find the time to commit to developing a relationship with those buyers and policy makers. The relationship is important, as Jo Dawson emphasizes, as it often provides the buyer to better understand how to work within the seasons and/or production schedule of suppliers and growers/harvesters a better understanding of the timing and quantities required.

This is the very reason, we reached out to Jo. She has a career, walking the talk of stronger engagement of local suppliers with public programs. She is now speaking and consulting across the country about the opportunity to access these programs and encourage stronger connections, sustaining relationships and healthier communities.

"Champions are encouraged and needed in each state to advocate for child nutrition" - Jo Dawson

Our interview covers her roots being from a small seafood producing community in SE Alaska, to the latest movements in micro-purchasing and values-based sourcing.

We hope you agree that food must nourish. In this case, we look at the nourishment of the eater AND building the community to do just that.

Jo Dawson also served on the board of the statewide school nutrition association and advocates for those unfamiliar in their respective regions to consider engaging in these programs. It is where education and connections happen and often an opportunity to show off food options at an associated food show.

"Can your business contribute to the menu in a local, meaningful way?"

Jo says that if the answer is yes, then a sustaining, profitable and nourishing path can and should be built.

Video Interview Chapters

00:00 Introduction and Background

08:45 Variations in Child Nutrition Programs Across States

28:14 Integration of School Gardens and Greenhouses

36:41 Funding Opportunities for Local Food Procurement

Reach out to Jo Dawson here.



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