Guest post by Jennifer Reynolds, Institutional Food Program Manager at Food Secure Canada. This post was originally published on the Food Secure Canada Website. It was republished here with the permission of the author.
For the past year and a half Food Secure Canada and the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation have been learning with the Institutional Food Learning Group, a cohort of eight diverse projects from across Canada, on how to effectively change the procurement practices of hospitals, schools, campuses and other larger food purchasers to prompt supply chain shifts towards more sustainable food production and systems.
Yet working as individuals to change the purchasing practices and institutional culture to prioritize sourcing more local, sustainable ingredients can be a daunting task. It requires patience and perseverance in learning how to navigate complex supply chains and and make changes in institutional food service operations. And when things get challenging it’s important to come back to the many reasons for doing this work including – to increase health and sustainability, to revitalize rural communities, to create a positive food culture – and this need for re-energizing is at the core of why the Learning Group comes together.
Learning from practitioners and site visits
The Learning Group met at the end of January 2016 in southern Ontario for three days to continue their learning from each other and to visit a school, hospital, campus and food distributor (links below) that are all working towards the goal of more fresh, local food being served in institutions. Participants also heard about innovative procurement projects supported by the Greenbelt Fund’s Broader Public Sector Grant Stream including the Public Purse Procurement – 3P Mentorship Program and the journey of MEALsource, a public sector group purchasing organization for 33 health care food service locations in Ontario, in procuring from VG Meats (a local sustainable cattle processor) – check out their inspiring case study! (more…)