A community-based effort to increase institutional purchasing
Composed of representatives from all parts of the food system, the Franklin County Food Council is focused on increasing local food production and access, and engaging local institutions to promote healthy eating. The Council’s Farm to Institution Working Group has been particularly active over the past three years, partnering with local schools, hospitals, Meals on Wheels, Green- field Community College, and the Franklin County House of Correction. Recognizing that the clients and students these programs serve often don’t have much ability to make decisions about the food they eat, the working group wants to help these communities have better access to healthy, local foods.
The group is working with these institutions to increase their local food purchasing. Importantly, since many institutions do not have systems to track how much of their food comes from local sources, the working group is helping them identify ways to calculate that information so they can track increases in local food purchases.
The working group also provides learning and networking opportunities for institutions. The group has organized a training for school food-service directors about how to connect with more local food sources, as well as one focused on menu planning and costing, which featured a cooking demonstration by chefs from the Chicopee schools. In addition, the group is learning about barriers to local procurement and potential policies to increase local purchasing. With a recent grant, the Food Council plans to hire a consultant to provide suggestions to each school on procurement, wellness policies, cafeteria organization, and other healthy food issues.
Distribution - Action 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.