The PlanSector

Distribution

Goal 7

Farm-to-institution sales will increase.

Image courtesy of Freedom Food Farm

Sale of local foods to schools, hospitals, universities, and other large food purchasers has increased in recent years. This creates opportunities for food producers – especially mid-scale producers – to sell large volumes of their products, and earn more than they typically would in a wholesale market. Schools serving local food are finding that, when local food is paired with educational programming, students are more receptive to eating vegetables. Hospitals recognize the health benefits for patients and staff, and are increasingly integrating local food offerings into their menus, in addition to other initiatives that encourage improved diets.

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Recommendations

  1. 7.1 Reform and implement local food procurement policy for institutions.
    1. Actions:
    2. 7.1.1 Mandate minimum local food procurement for state universities and colleges, in addition to state agencies, and provide adequate reporting requirements and staffing for enforcement.
    3. 7.1.2 Increase purchase allowance for local foods for all state colleges, universities, day-care providers, and K-12 schools.
    4. 7.1.3 Increase funding for state agency and institutional local food procurement.
    5. 7.1.4 Establish a tracking mechanism and reporting requirement for local food purchasing by public institutions.
    6. 7.1.5 Establish benchmarks for local food procurement by state institutions. Consider modeling these benchmarks on already existing benchmark goals, like the Massachusetts Executive Branch’s targets for purchases from minority- and women-owned businesses.
    7. 7.1.6 Develop guidelines for municipalities to increase the threshold below which they may make direct purchases to enable larger purchases from farms.
    8. 7.1.7 Develop guidelines for private institutions to create policies and standards for increasing local food procurement.
  2. 7.2 Commit and leverage resources for farm-to-institution participation and compliance.
    1. Actions:
    2. 7.2.1 Commit funding for technical assistance services and resources for farm-to-institution producers and buyers.
    3. 7.2.2 Develop and maintain an accessible, central inventory of institutions, farmers, fishermen, processors, and agencies in the farm-to-institution network to facilitate communication and distribution among the producers, buyers, and organizing agencies.
    4. 7.2.3 Track, label, and market local food distributed through farm-to-institution channels as ‘local.’
    5. 7.2.4 Promote best practices for local food procurement. Build on best practices used by institutions procuring local food, and research from buy-local groups and other industry service providers, including by expanding efforts to collectively procure local food by public institutions and by developing innovative procurement practices to enable more regular local food purchasing, particularly in public schools.
  3. 7.3 Increase participation of food producers and buyers in farm-to-institution procurement.
    1. Actions:
    2. 7.3.1 Extend local food procurement programming to more public and private institutions, including primary and secondary schools, universities, hospitals, health care facilities, correctional facilities, elder care facilities, restaurants, grocery stores, and other food retail businesses.
    3. 7.3.2 Fund and offer training programs to educate institutional purchasers on local food procurement, from food purchasing to preparation.
    4. 7.3.3 Work with institutions on navigating challenges related to changing food procurement practices.
    5. 7.3.4 Increase distribution of locally caught or raised seafood in institutions.
    6. 7.3.5 Increase opportunities for the production of value-added food products for farm-to-institution distribution. Examples are fresh or frozen cut fruit and vegetables, and more complex, processed foods, like fish cakes.
    7. 7.3.6 Encourage programming that complements farm-to-institution initiatives in public and private universities and schools, such as schoolyard gardening, and agriculture and nutrition education.
    8. 7.3.7 Encourage programming that complements institution initiatives in public and private health care facilities, such as vegetable prescription programs.