Farm-to-institution partnerships

Traditionally, institutions (colleges, universities, hospitals, and schools) have developed business relationships and have signed long-term contracts either directly with food corporations or with food service distributors in order to meet their needs to feed a large number of people. Quality and feasibility were priorities in the contracts. Little attention was paid to the food production system, location, or to supporting sustainable food systems.

As the nation’s focus has shifted to sustainable food systems, more attention is being paid to the origin of food. Increasingly, all around the country, students, managers, farmers, academicians, and others are putting their thoughts and hands together in developing new ways of bringing food to hospitals, colleges, universities and schools. Web sites are also being developed to share information and lessons learnt, with the goal of helping those who want to establish farm-to-institution programs.

Developing and sustaining farm-to-institution programs are a part of the SAEA’s activities and have been a discussion topic during past conferences.

Farm to Institution

Other organizations of interest:

Community Food Security Coalition

The Community Food Security Coalition is a North American organization of social and economic justice, environmental, nutrition, sustainable agriculture, community development, labor, anti-poverty, anti-hunger, and other groups. The coalition is dedicated to building strong, sustainable, local and regional food systems that ensure access to affordable, nutritious, and culturally appropriate food to all people at all times. The Coalition achieves its goals through a comprehensive blend of training, networking, and advocacy to further the efforts of grassroots groups to create effective solutions from the ground up. We provide a variety of training and technical assistance programs for community food projects; support the development of farm to school and farm to college initiatives; advocate for federal policies to support community food security initiatives; and provide networking and educational resources.

What you will find:

  • Learn more about the basics of farm to college.
  • Find links to resources for starting and maintaining programs.
  • Information about the Farm-to-Cafeteria Conference: This biennial event that brings together people from around the country to network to learn from each other’s experiences, emphasizing initiatives in schools and colleges.
  • Regional Workshops and Organizing Meetings: Experienced organizers are available to help groups design effective farm to cafeteria projects.
  • Healthy Farms, Healthy Schools, a publication that examines existing programs and related policy issues.
  • Link to the online farm-to-college survey and The Farm to College Research Report, a report that provides in-depth information on 18 programs, including an information kit with surveys for farmers and food service directors.
  • Find information about specific farm-to-college programs.
  • Mentoring and One-on-One Assistance in your area and help to identify organizing strategies tailored to your situation.
  • A nationwide listserv facilitating information sharing among more than 300 subscribers.

Center for Food & Justice

Center for Food & Justice (CFJ) is a division of The Urban & Environmental Policy Institute, a community oriented research and advocacy organization based at Occidental College in Los Angeles, CA. With a vision in sustainable and socially just food system, CFJ engages in collaborative action strategies, community capacity-building, and research and education.

What you will find:

  • Fresh Food Distribution Models for the Greater Los Angeles Region. A report that describes barriers and opportunities to facilitate and scale up the distribution of fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • The ins and outs of developing partnerships between hospitals and local farms for interested farmers and hospital food service departments.
  • Issues for farmers to consider if they are interested in selling products to area hospitals.
  • Examples of ways hospitals can improve the food they offer.
  • Specific case studies of successful programs.

The National Farm to School Program

The National Farm to School Program is a collaborative program of Center for Food & Justice (CFJ) and the Community Food Security Coalition (CFSC). Initiated in 2000, the National Program has spearheaded the development of the farm to school movement across the country, successfully assisting organizations in starting up and sustaining farm to school efforts, fundraising, and providing informational resources, education and training for farm to school stakeholders.

What you will find:

  • Publications on case studies and feasibility analysis, evaluation tools and reports, buying and selling local foods, how to get started, and curricular resources.
  • News and events including recent press releases, media mentions, and information on field trips and other events.
  • Funding opportunities at national, state, and local levels.
  • Newsletter that highlights pivotal policies, news, publications, and events.
  • Involved groups and organizations with resources and information to help with your local Farm to School program.
  • Policies and legislation that have already been passed regarding local nutrition policies. This resource will help you think about the needs in your own community and what your schools can offer.

Maria Oria