Written by Megan Finnell, Spring 2015 Food and Farm Intern. Originally published in August 2015.

On March 3, 2015, Melissa Vatterott attended the Meet the Buyers Event, the purpose of which was to allow local farmers to connect with grocery stores, food distributors, and restaurants in the St. Louis area. The event was held in the IL Monastero Building at St. Louis University and hosted by several organizations and institutions: Illinois Department of Agriculture,  University of Illinois Extension, AgriMissouri, Saint Louis University, Illinois Farm Bureau, University of Missouri Extension, Illinois Speciality Growers Association, and Missouri Farm Bureau. At this event, Melissa networked with individuals from several organizations – growers and buyers alike. Below is a brief summary of each organization with which she networked:

Melissa and Megan spoke with Linda Jones, of Opaa! Food ManagementOpaa! works with school districts in Missouri to serve the nutrition needs of children in grades K-12. Opaa! partners with individual school districts to develop a child nutrition program unique to the local community needs. Opaa! is unique in that it incorporates locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables and rolls from scratch for the school districts they work with. As they say on their website, “when you partner with Opaa!, you’re assured of a wide variety of fresh, safe, and nutritious choices to support a healthy learning environment, all at an exceptional value.” For more info, visit Opaa!’s website.

Melissa and Megan also met with Shari Koppmann of Three Girls and a Tractor, a family farm located just outside Marthasville, Missouri. Shari, her husband John, and their three daughters – Jamie, Sara and Katie – grow a variety of produce, including watermelon, pumpkins, squash, tomatoes, sweet corn, and eggplant. They are increasingly active in the farm-to-school movement and currently provide produce to the Rockwood and Wentzville School Districts. For more information, follow them on Twitter @GirlsandTractor.