Customers: This tool allows you to locate additional food options nearest to you. Within the map shown are locations of different types of farms, food pantries, and farmers markets for you to access during this time. Filter through the options, or search by keyword. You can also search with your address. You will then be zoomed into your area, and you can see which businesses are closest to you. Change your search radius in the drop down menu on the right to find more results. By clicking on the points you will be shown how to contact them, what they’re selling, payment type accepted, and purchasing options.
Local Food Producers (Farmers, growers, and local suppliers): You can enter basic information about the food you sell, location and contact information by clicking “Register Your Local Food Business”. Submitted information will automatically show up on the map below. Customers can then find your local food business using the map and search tools below.
Verification Process: When a food source is submitted it is sent through a screening process to become a verified source. MU Extension staff curates the locations, and does a verification check to make sure the business/source meets the criteria for this website. This ensures that all website links, addresses, and businesses are correct in what they are advertising. Once a site is entered it will be populated on the map as “unverified”. The business will be screened within 24 hours and will either be switched to “verified” or removed from the map. The sites that are removed will receive an email from the staff with a detailed description of why it was hidden.
MU Press Release April 15, 2020
The Missouri Food Finder is a new online tool that easily connects Missouri consumers with the people who are growing and selling locally produced food in their region.
Developed by MU Extension and the MU Center for Applied Research and Engagement Systems (CARES), in collaboration with the Missouri Department of Agriculture, the Missouri Food Finder helps address an immediate need, said Jo Britt-Rankin, associate dean with MU Extension Human Environmental Sciences.
The economic impact of COVID-19 is expected to hit local producers and growers hard, threatening businesses and livelihoods as they are cut off from their usual markets and selling opportunities, said Marshall Stewart, MU vice chancellor for extension and engagement. Consumers face a loss of many usual food options and heightened concerns about how and where they will be able to buy food.
“This easy-to-use resource connects Missouri growers and families in powerful ways that will help farmers and small businesses continue to thrive, while also helping families find nutritious local and regional food options,” Stewart said. “I’m proud of our team for seeing this problem and so quickly offering a practical solution.”
As with the 4-H Feeding Missouri statewide food drive collaboration with Drive to Feed Kids, MU Extension and Engagement continues to focus on our state’s food insecurity challenges, Stewart said. “We know that during these extraordinary times, we need extraordinary solutions to resolve food insecurity challenges.”
Farmers, growers, and local suppliers can enter basic information about the food they sell, their hours, location and contact information. That information will automatically show up on a Missouri map. Consumers simply type in their location to see what options are available in whatever geographically searchable area they select.
The Missouri Food Finder tool was inspired by Lorin Fahrmeier, MU Extension’s Farm to Institution project coordinator. Known for its Farm to School (FTS) program, the Farm to Institution project connects farmers with school cafeterias and other institutional settings to get more fresh, high-quality, locally grown food into these meal settings.
She and her husband, Bret, also have a fruit and vegetable farm in Lexington, Missouri, that has been in their family since 1947. Three weeks ago, they shifted exclusively to online sales of produce provision boxes, trying to get ahead of new provisions enacted due to the Covid-19 pandemic. About the same time, she noticed that Nadler’s, a butcher shop in nearby Wellington, had stopped its popular catering service and pivoted to selling a variety of food products — “basically shifting back to a rural grocery store model.”
“It dawned on me we could be witnessing a resurgence of the rural grocery store that’s been missing so long as an entrepreneurial outlet for farmers and as a convenience for consumers. We’ve been driving into town for so long we’d forgotten what’s been missing,” Fahrmeier said. “This could be a way and a time for people to become reconnected to these local and regional food systems again.”
“The next step was how can we help promote this local food infrastructure developing right before our eyes? How are we going to help consumers find these local food sources and businesses?” Fahrmeier said.
Fahrmeier and extension’s Human Environmental Sciences team relied on CARES expertise to develop the tool, aware of their food systems work on projects such as the statewide community garden Eating from the Garden finder.
The Missouri Food Finder has the capacity to help growers and consumers envision and create a more local and resilient food system that has the potential to be sustained beyond the COVID-19 response, said CARES Director Chris Fulcher.
“We’re building this together. Now more than ever producers and growers have to learn to be more market savvy and step out of their comfort zone, and we hope this tool can be a good start in helping to sustain that,” Fahrmeier said.
Here are the steps to Register Your Local Food Business
- On the front page of the site click the “Register Your Local Food Business” button
- Before you begin the survey please read the following information for inclusion in the Missouri Food Finder. If you meet one of the following criteria continue on with the survey.
- The first question you will be asked is the name of your business as well as the county your business is in.
- Enter your business address. This is what will populate your farm on the map for the public to access your information.
- The goal is for the public to be able to contact you in this time. Here we enter phone contact, email, website, and Facebook URL. You are not required to have a website or Facebook, but a valid phone number or email so consumers can contact you to purchase goods.
- Select your days of operation. Hours are not provided due to things changing daily with COVID-19. This also lets consumers know which days are appropriate to contact your business.
- Check all the purchasing options that apply to your business.
- Check all the payment options that your business accepts. For example if you are a food pantry that does not require payment you would select “Free”.
- What Type of Business are you? Check all that apply. Use the “Other” space to type in anything we may have missed that is unique to your business.
- What food items do you offer? Check all that apply. Once again use the “Other” space to type in anything we may have missed.
- The last page will be a summary of the information you entered, so you can review for mistakes. At the very bottom right click submit when you are finished. I did want to point out you can download this summary to pdf for you to use as well.
Like previously mentioned, if you have any thoughts or questions about updating or entering your business on the site please feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!