Virtual Meet-Up to Examine Factors Influencing Food Purchases

Join the Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network as it explores understanding how social status influences food purchasing during their monthly virtual Meet-Up on Friday, November 4th at 12 noon (Central) via zoom.

Watch Recorded Video HERE

Guest speakers Dr. Ross Pruitt, Associate Professor of Agricultural Economics from the University of Tennessee at Martin, and Dr. Lindsay Anderson, Associate Professor of Sociology at Tennessee State University, shared their research findings geared towards Farmers, Farmers Market Vendors and consumers.

Consumers are known to signal social status through their purchasing behaviors. As the food industry continually expands its use of strategic marketing to reach customers, understanding food’s connection to this kind of status signaling may open the door to explore new markets for farmers. This study explored the influence of social status, physical activity, and socio-demographics on an individual’s willingness to pay for a basket of high-quality foods. 

How Farmers Markets Benefit from this Research: TIPS for Farmers (Watch Video)

  1. Promote culturally diverse foods related to specific cultures including Latino and Asian Populations
  2. Tap into “Conspicuous Consumption” : individuals receive satisfaction from visibly displaying social status through purchases
  3. Focus on women as purchasers.
  4. Offer samples of food products and recipes to accompany that specific food or set of foods
  5. Being aware of experiences with cuisines and the foods that are available locally – visit a grocery store (hispanic or asian) grocery stores; ask purchasers – what produce is difficult for you to find and could this be something I could grow for you?

Additional comments and TIPS for Farmers from Attendees:

  1. Offer an on-site farmers market at University Campuses

The Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based out of Martin, TN serving as a catalyst for a thriving and equitable local food system that is accessible to ALL.

Obion County Farm Day Paves the Way Towards the Future of Farming

On Friday, October 21, 2022, the Obion County School District celebrated FARM DAY at Obion County Central High School. The High School’s Future Farmers of America student group hosted close to 200 fourth graders who rotated through agricultural learning stations including chicks from Tyson Foods out of Union City, TN Corn, TN Soybean Council, NWTN Beekeepers Association, Nutrien Ag Solutions, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, Beef Cattle and OCCHS FFA raised lambs.

All Obion County School District Elementary School fourth graders participated including students from Lakeview, South Fulton, Black Oak, Hillcrest, and Ridgemont Elementary Schools.

Activities like Farm Day, celebrated during #National Farm to School Month, bring awareness about the benefits of agriculture and nutrition in our daily lives. “Farm Day is a great way to educate children about agriculture because many fourth graders do not know where their food comes from,” stated Sara Frazier, Agriculture Teacher at Obion County Central High School. “The FFA program utilizes peer-to-peer learning which is a great way to empower high school students by teaching younger students about agricultural concepts.”

During the 2021-2022 school year, the Obion County School District, in partnership with the Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network, participated in a year-long Farm to School Planning project resulting in the publication of the Obion County Farm to School Action Plan.

Stuart Watson (middle), Agriculture Teacher & FFA Adviser at Obion County Central High School, has a passion to teach youth about sustainable agriculture which shows in the hydroponic & greenhouse plant program he manages at Obion County Central High School. Also in the picture are NWTN Local Food Network Farm to School Coordinators (left) Samantha Goyret and (right) Caroline Ideus.
Obion County Central High School FFA students are ready to take action!
(left to right: front) Norah Kendall, Katelyn Ramsey, Aiden Cochran, Tony Blue, Genesis Wilson, (back) Stuart Watson, Daniel Northern, Jaxon Willcutt, Titan Talbot.

Will you help Obion County Central High School build a NEW greenhouse? These dedicated students want to be able to expand hydroponic growing operations in order to feed a consistent supply of Rebel Grown greens to all of the schools in the school district. Obion County is seeking matching funds to support this project – can you help? Contact Stuart Watson at swatson@ocboe.com.

Be a Part of the ACTION: Obion County Farm to School Action Plan

We envision an Obion County School District Farm to School Initiative that connects the farm to the classroom to the cafeteria to increase healthy food options and foster a deeper understanding of our food sources and their nutritional benefits to support the welfare of students, parents, and community members in Obion County, TN.”

The Obion County Farm to School team seeks schools and their communities to take action by encouraging working on collective Farm to School goals over the next 3 years. The goals are developed around supporting initiatives in the Cafeteria, Classroom, Community, and coordinating an integrated approach for Staying Power.

The following is a brief summary of the Farm to School initiative goals over the next three years: 

Education Goal: By 2023, Obion County Schools will connect students to agriculture experiences through experiential learning opportunities.

Growing Food Goal 1: Starting in 2023, school based growing food operations will improve by increasing access to agriculture education, elementary school-based growing programs, and the support and expansion of high school greenhouse growing operations.

Growing Food Goal 2: By 2024, the processing of school grown foods will be determined to increase the amount of school grown food within Obion County schools.

Local Food Procurement/Cafeteria Goal 1: By 2023, Obion County Schools will begin to incorporate school garden produce and school farm products into the cafeteria and afterschool snacks through taste tests to increase access to fresher, healthier foods for all students.

Local Food Procurement/ Cafeteria Goal 2: Starting in 2023, food service staff will have access to in-service training to incorporate local agriculture products and increase awareness of nutritional education opportunities through the school food service program.

Coordination, Integration And Staying Power Goal 1: Starting the school year 2022-2023, the Obion County Farm to School Team will seek financial stability for Farm to School Programming.

Coordination, Integration And Staying Power Goal 2: Starting in 2023, schools will increase communication by including a featured farm to school activity or resource in quarterly newsletters and a monthly social media post of school based farm to school activities from within the Obion School District. #FarmtoSchool

Coordination, Integration And Staying Power Goal 3: Starting the school year 2022-2023, a network of community stakeholders will be informed of the Obion County Action Plan to aid in increasing advocacy efforts and gain broader support from parents, community organizations, local businesses, institutions, and farmers.

Education Long-Term Goal: Within 5 years the Obion County School District will increase the number of nutrition and agriculture curriculum resources and Farm to School training opportunities for teachers.

Growing Food Long-Term Goal: By 2025, the amount of school grown produce and products procured into Obion County school cafeterias will have increased by 5%.

The Obion County Farm to School Action Plan was written in collaboration with the Obion County School District and the Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network. The Northwest Tennessee Local Food Network is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that serves as a catalyst for a thriving and equitable local food system that is accessible to ALL.

Download the full Obion County Farm to School Action Plan at nwtnlfn.org/farm-to-school

~Samantha Goyret
NWTN Local Food Network Team
Farm to School Coordinator