Local Food Procurement for Institutions

Local Food

Local Food Resources for Institutional Purchasers

Institutional demand for local food has grown greatly in the past few years (1). However, many barriers to increased institutional sourcing still exist. These include cost, which is often cited as a top concern, food safety and liability, quality, reliable and adequate supply, seasonality, regulatory concerns and contradictory procurement policies, management of multiple vendors, low-skill of food service workers, and infrastructure for aggregation, distribution, and processing (2).
At ISU Extension & Outreach in Dubuque County, we are dedicated to working with community partners acoss the food system to address barriers to local purchasing by providing research-based information, education, and partnerships. For more information about the Dubuque Eats Well Farm-to-Institution Working Group - view the sidebar to the right. Below is a list of helpful resources for institutional food service managers and chefs including research, and information about state and national organizations which provide specialized technical assistance.
For more information call ISU Extension and Outreach Dubuque County (563) 583 6496


Iowa Seasonal Produce Guide
What’s in Season - Iowa State University Extension & Outreach

Buying from Local Farmers - Resources for Direct Purchasing
Iowa MarketMaker - Connecting markets & quality sources of food in Iowa
What Retail Foodservices Should Know When Purchasing Produce Directly From Farmers (2010)
Dubuque Farmers’ Market - Vendor List | Searchable Product Listing

Working with Distributors - Local & Regional Aggregation, Distribution
What is a Food Hub?
What do we know about Food Hubs in Iowa?
Iowa Food Hub (West Union, IA)
USDA Local Food Hub Directory
Iowa Food Hubs - Resource Page

Food Safety
Iowa State University Checklist for Retail Purchase of Local Foods | PDF
National GAP (Good Agricultural Practices) Program

General Local Foods Information
10 Things to Know About Local Foods
Economic Impacts of Local Foods - Statewide Reports & Economic Impact Studies
USDA 2015 Report to Congress: Trends in U.S. Local and Regional Food Systems

Procurement Policy & Planning
How to Develop a Local and Regional Institutional Food Buying Program
Promoting Local Purchasing and Farm To School Activities: Model Wellness Policy Language for Schools

National & state organizations that support institutions wishing to change their food purchasing practices

School Food Focus Learning Lab- works directly with school districts to help them identify changes they want to make and help them work towards those changes. The learning lan also have worked with big actors in the food industry such as Tyson and Jennie-O to reformulate products towards desired specifications.

National Farm to School Network -  launched in 2007 NFSN works with schools at all levels of  involvement in FTS programs. The network has six priorities and they are: 1. Policy development, 2. Training and technical assistance, 3. Information development and dissemination, 4. Networking, 5. Media and marketing and 6. Research and evaluation. The NFSN recently launched a FTS evaluation framework and schools have access to resources on their website including recipes, food service training and fundraising.

Iowa Farm to School Program
Iowa Department of Land Stewardship
Iowa Department of Education
Iowa Farm to School Toolkit
Iowa Farm to School on Facebook

ISU Extension & Outreach - Local Food Resources for Educators

The Real Food Challenge-works with universities across the country to “shift $1 billion of existing university food budget away from industrial farms and junk food and towards local/community based, fair, ecologically sound and human food sources by 2020.” The  program includes leadership training, conferences, awards and online resources for students, food service professionals and faculty. The real food-tracking calculator includes a baseline survey, assessment plan and tracking of “real food” purchases, which allows universities to track their progress.

Healthcare Without Harm works with hospitals across the country who want to improve the sustainability of their food services.  The Healthy Food in Health Care (HFHC)  initiative was started in 2005 and provides education, tools and resources to support  health care facilities.


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