By Cia Morey, Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Commission

Last week, between thunderstorms here in Southern Maryland, I attended a meeting the
Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) hosted for local farmers. This was a pre-bid meeting to learn about an opportunity to sell local fresh produce to Charles County schools. CCPS has prepared an Invitation to Bid (ITB) for the 2015-2016 school year.

Maryland’s Farm to School Week this year is September 14-18, 2015. During this week, farmtoschool.2schools try and serve something local every day for a week. Charles County is taking steps to truly bring farms into the schools throughout the school year.

William Kreuter, Supervisor of Food Service understands that farmers in Southern Maryland cannot serve the entire school system for the whole school year. A majority of the school year takes place when most local farms are not producing as much.What’s unique about the bid is the school locations are bundled in a total of nine zones. This allows a bidder to only bid on a zone they feel they can fulfill when they have product available. Also, in the bid “local” is defined as 100 miles from La Plata, Maryland. That allows farms from all over the state of Maryland to participate in the bid if they want.

Kreuter said, “Through the bid process we look forward to developing an ongoing business vege4relationship with the local farming business community that will benefit local farmers and bring healthy food to our students.” Questions on the bid are due July 7, 2015 and final bids are due by July 23, 2013, 2 p.m. For bid information please visit the link.

We are thrilled to see a local school system create an innovative, flexible approach from which farmers of all sizes can participate. Farmers can win and so will students who will get the freshest food on their plates.