The Center for Good Food Purchasing
Director of Institutional Impact
Vanessa Zajfen comes to The Center for Good Food Purchasing from School Food Focus where she directed ProCureWorks, a program catalyzing food system change by leveraging the aggregated purchasing power of 530 school sites and 55 hospitals to develop, deliver and serve healthy, sustainable and regional foods. Prior to School Food Focus, Zajfen worked at the United States Department Agriculture (USDA), Food & Nutrition Service. While at the USDA she served as a Farm to School Regional Lead for the Midwest region; a region covering six states, 5,500 school districts and home to more than 45 million Americans. As such she provided training, technical assistance, and generalized support to a wide variety of farm to school stakeholders in her region. Vanessa also specialized in the provision of technical assistance related to local meat sourcing for K-12 school districts. Prior to the USDA Vanessa worked for the Food Service Department at San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD). The Food Service Department of SDUSD serves over 100,000 students, 80,000 meals daily and ranks in scale as the 20th largest school district in the Country. There Vanessa was the Farm to School Specialist where she launched the District’s first farm to school program, sourced and served over 1 million pounds of local and organic foods and worked directly with family farmers. From 2006 to 2009 she worked at the Urban & Environmental Policy Institute where she developed and managed various farm to institution programs, including the nation’s first Farm to WIC program. From 2005 to 2006 she worked as the Community Supported Agriculture Manager at South Coast Farms. She also founded Beyond Organic Produce Company which specialized in sourcing and selling locally grown foods. Vanessa has a BA from UC Santa Cruz and an MS in Sustainable Agriculture from Iowa State University.