Local Food in Institutions
Healthy, local food. Served in at your college, school or local medical center. Why is it so hard?
Sometimes, it's the consistency of the product - from month to month or year to year local farm producers may suffer crop failures or pests and other natural challenges. Sometimes, it's the communication with the producers themselves - our Vermont farms are often small, which means 1 or 2 people are doing the growing and the sales management. And sometimes, getting whole vegetables into an institutional kitchen which is set up just to cook and heat means that menus and skills have to be added to the staff and team they already have.
Enter the CAE's Farm to Institution program!
"We are making local produce easy to use. We make dices, cuts and shreds of Vermont grown root and storage crops. Our clients put them on salad bars, in soups, in mixes and more. It's an easy way for them to buy local without having to change menus."
In the words of one of our health care partners:
"We are a current client of the CAE, purchasing farm products from their minimally processed vegetable program since they began. We believe that the ongoing work towards new markets, particularly reaching people who do not usually have access, will be important to grow the local food system. My relationship with CAE these past couple of years has been positive; we are supportive of each other."
Our program uses the VT Food Venture Center as our large scale food processing hub. We work with small and medium scale farmers across Vermont to purchase products that grow easily in our state - such as carrots, potatoes, beets and more. Then we wash, chop, package and sometimes freeze the vegetables for their trip straight to an institutional kitchen. This program has three goals:
- Providing a viable new market and revenue stream to our farm partners
- Providing a local product to our institutional partners to increase their local purchasing
- Reaching the consumers at our schools, hospitals and colleges who may not otherwise have access to local food