Public institutions can play a transformative role in creating socially, economically and environmentally sustainable food systems, providing healthy food for populations which are often vulnerable and influencing supply chains to more local and sustainable production. Hospitals, long-term care facilities, universities and schools have a critical role to play in food system change, both because they are publicly funded and because stakeholders such as students, patients, doctors and parents can influence the purchasing policies and practices of these institutions toward greater sustainability.
In recent years, certain hospitals, schools and cafeterias across Canada have shown that they can transform their practices to serve healthy, local and sustainable food. These changes have been led by visionary champions, and in some cases have been aided by supportive public policies or programs.
Institutional Food Fund:
The presence of isolated success stories has so far not proven sufficient to tip a critical mass of organizations towards sustainability. Specific supports, incentives and learning opportunities are needed to embed these changes within mainstream procurement practices, and the stories and mechanisms of success need to be widely communicated across the country. The Institutional Food Fund intends to support this work.
The Foundation is partnering on this program with Food Secure Canada (FSC), who will be providing Institutional Food Fund recipients with technical support and coordinating a learning group. Grantees will learn from each other and experts in the field, sharing successes and challenges in shifting to more local and sustainable procurement.
Note: The Institutional Food Fund is not currently accepting applications at this time.
Institutional Food Fund Grants:
The Foundation received over 20 applications to the Institutional Food Fund from institutions with strong measures of readiness to change their procurement practices and supply chain relationships. Almost half of the applications were from the health care sector—including long-term care facilities which typically have more flexibility in addressing the limitations of $7 - $8 per patient for raw food costs by adapting menus to better accommodate the typically seasonal local food supply chain. Nevertheless, selected projects include institutions from the post-secondary, public school, and health sectors from across Canada.
Work with these individual institutions will be complemented by engagement with governments and the private sector and communications efforts in order to create a shared agenda for more sustainable institutional food.
Grants approved in this round—ranging from $40,000 to $75,000, and totalling $450,000—have been made to the following projects:
Concordia University, QC – to hire a Sustainable Food System Manager to develop and implement a system and structure to track sustainable food benchmarks and support their implementation in various dining operations on campus.
Centre de santé et service sociaux (CSSS) des Sommets, QC – to increase local, sustainable food in cafeterias, patient meals, and vending machines of three long-term care facilities and a hospital in the Laurentides region of Quebec.
Ecology Action Centre, NS – to work in partnership with the provincial health care buying group, Nova Scotia Health Care Purchasing Ltd, to pilot sourcing local, sustainable seafood in three long-term health care facilities and a hospital in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.
Edmonton Northlands, AB – to facilitate a working group of large institutions and distributors to leverage the group’s buying power for increasing local food purchases.
Équiterre, QC – to work with the Centre de santé et service sociaux (CSSS) de la Pointe de l’Île in Montreal to increase procurement of local fruits and vegetables in long-term care facilities and staff training on utilizing seasonal produce delivered in partnership with the culinary program of the regional school board.
Farm Folk/City Folk, BC – to continue their Learning Lab process working with school food stakeholders including the Vancouver School Boards’ major broad line supplier on opportunities to increase local purchasing and promoting the use of seasonally based menus in schools.
North Island College, BC – to increase local, sustainable food served on campus and to strategically build the capacity of local producers and distributors to supply large health care institutions in the Comox Valley.