Dear FINE Friends,
The period between early 2015 and mid-2016 was an exciting time for FINE. We are encouraged by the growing momentum in the farm to institution network in New England, and the innovation, inspiration and success stories of thousands of partners working to get more local food to institutions every day. We are taking this time to reflect on recent highlights in our first formal network report.
The Farm to Institution Summit in April 2015 brought over 600 people together over three days to share lessons, generate ideas and expand the network of businesses, universities, hospitals, schools, non-profits organizations and public agencies that are working to support local farmers and fishers, deliver great food to consumers, and create good jobs along the supply chain. We also participated in numerous other partner events. Plans are underway for the 2017 New England Farm to Institution Summit.
Our Food Service Project conducted extensive research into food service management company operations and contracts and created a toolkit that was released in early 2016. The Farm & Sea to Campus Network launched in early 2016 to support communication and collaboration among groups working on many fronts in the farm to college and university sectors.
The Food Processors Community of Practice was revitalized to foster connections between processing operations in the region who help bring local food to institutions year round. The group identified a need for ongoing efforts to support collaborative projects, take advantage of established relationships and networks, and identify and reach new marketing opportunities.
The Shared Metrics Project linked existing data on farm to institution indicators with new research that we conducted to establish baselines for the three key institutional sectors as well as distributors and producers. Results are available in various engaging formats including our Farm to Institution Dashboard.
We have deepened our connection with the farm to school sector, supporting programs and events through our communications efforts and staffing. We are honored to serve as the new host for Massachusetts Farm to School, a key regional partner that has been actively involved with FINE since our inception.
Finally, we formed a new Network Advisory Council with membership from all six New England states and all along the supply chain to help guide our path moving forward. We are grateful to the FINE Leadership Team members who have been a critical force of inspiration and stalwart agents of change since our earliest days.
Farm to Institution New England
- Hosted a Food Service Webinar: More than 200 people participated in our Food Service Management Company 101 webinar, during which our project team presented their findings from research in 2014.
- Held a Conference Track: At the Harvest New England Conference in Massachusetts, FINE hosted a farm to institution track with five workshops.
- Hosted Workshops for Food Service Professionals: At the National Association of College & University Food Services (NACUFS) regional conference in Rhode Island, our staff presented two workshops for food service staff from campuses across the Northeast with self-operated dining services.
- Co-hosted a Farm to School Recipes for Success Contest: In collaboration with the Northeast Regional Steering Committee of the National Farm to School Network, we co-hosted a contest for innovative farm to school projects and ideas in the Northeast.
- Held the Farm to Institution Summit: In partnership with the Northeast steering committee of the National Farm to School Network and Health Care Without Harm, FINE collectively drew more than 600 people together for the first ever Northeast Farm to Institution Summit at UMass Amherst.
- Launched a Health Care Microsite: We launched a microsite within our domain to support Health Care Without Harm's New England Healthy Food in Health Care group.
- Submitted UMaine Recommendations: In collaboration with partner organizations, students, farmers and community members, we submitted recommendations to the UMaine System that outlined food service RFP language reflecting a priority for local and real foods, some of which ended up in the university's final RFP.
- Created a Mission for the Farm & Sea to Campus Network: A group of 30 individuals representing a diversity of roles and perspectives within the campus food system in New England came together in Boston to develop a mission for a Farm & Sea to Campus Network in the region and to determine next steps.
- Switched to a New Fiscal Sponsor: FINE became a project of Third Sector New England of Boston, a professional fiscal sponsor that provides us with comprehensive administrative services.
- Held a Planning Retreat: A group of eight farm to institution champions came together with FINE staff for a two-day leadership team retreat.
- Released Food Service Guides: Our food service project released two new guides on working with food service management companies to get more local food into institutions.
- Published a Stakeholder Report: We released our stakeholder survey report, which showed that people most appreciate the networking, resources, collaborations and information that we provide. They want more one-on-one technical assistance for institutions, processors, and producers; coordination of wholesale readiness activities, tools and resources; a searchable farm to institution registry and more.
- Launched the Farm & Sea to Campus Network: We launched the Farm & Sea to Campus Network, which is guided by a ten-person steering committee.
- Launched the New England Farm to Institution Metrics Dashboard (beta): We launched a beta version of the New England Farm to Institution Metrics Dashboard, which is designed to expand our collective understanding of the impact of the farm to institution marketing chain on the food producers, processors, distributors, institutions and institutional food consumers of New England.
- Hosted Conference Workshops: At the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Groups conference in New York, we hosted two farm to institution workshops.
- Adopted Mass Farm to School: FINE became the new host of the Massachusetts Farm to School Project.
- Announced a New Governing Body: We announced our new Network Advisory Council, which replaces the Leadership Team that guided our work from 2011 to 2015. Council members were selected to ensure that FINE is better represented by all the states in the region, the sectors we work in, and the supply chain that we serve.
- Released a Six-Part Series of Sea to Campus Case Studies: Our Farm & Sea to Campus Project released a series of six case studies focused on local and sustainable seafood purchasing programs across institutional sectors. The stories highlight the successful programs and events focused on seafood at the University of New Hampshire, Colby College, Harvard University, Seabrook School, Gloucester High School, and Boston Medical Center.
- Fielded a Producer Survey: More than 225 farmers responded to our regional producer survey to focused on assessing the impact of the farm to institution sector. The six New England state departments of agriculture and other producer service organizations helped spread the word.
- Hosted a Second Food Service Webinar: More than 400 people registered for our "Setting the Table for Success: Increasing Local Food Purchasing by Food Service at Institutions" webinar, during which we introduced our new food service toolkit.
- Hosted a Farm & Sea to Campus Statewide Gathering in Rhode Island: More than 70 people attended a gathering hosted by our Farm & Sea to Campus Project at the University of Rhode Island on February 24, 2016. The event allowed college and university dining operators, sustainability staff, faculty, and students to come together with non-profits, distributors, producers, and others to talk about a few key issues related to farm to campus work in Rhode Island, such as setting local purchasing goals and engaging students.
- Influenced the University of Maine System Food Service Contract: The University of Maine System, after a lengthy RFP bidding process in 2015, awarded their most recent food service contract to Sodexo. This signaled the end of the previous ten-year contract with Aramark. The new contract with Sodexo includes a commitment to 20% local foods, thanks to pressure from grassroots advocates and a coalition that included Farm to Institution New England, Environment Maine, Real Food Challenge, and Maine Farmland Trust.
- Hired a Farm & Sea to Campus Intern: Our Farm & Sea to Campus Project hired its first intern to assist with communications and graphic design. Danielle Walczak, a recent graduate of the University of Maine in Orono, worked with FINE from February to August 2016. She created several case studies about campus local food subscription programs, compiled information about campus farm managers in New England, wrote several blog posts, and more!
- Hosted a Farm & Sea to Campus Statewide Gathering in Connecticut: In partnership with FamilyFarmed, our Farm & Sea to Campus Project hosted a gathering for farmers, dining staff, and distributors in Connecticut. The gathering was focused on making connections between producers and institutional and other wholesale buyers, and providing educational resources for producers who are interested in reaching institutional buyers and other wholesale markets.
- Presented Metrics Research to Key Stakeholders: This spring, we gave presentations to commissioners of agriculture, interagency task forces, food policy councils, and funder groups across New England. These added to FINE's reputation as a go-to partner for data-based findings and recommendations about the region's farm to institution market.
- Updated the New England Farm to Institution Metrics Dashboard: We updated the metrics dashboard with new health care data, new farm to school data, and more in-depth and easy to read information on every page.
- Launched Four Farm & Sea to Campus Working Groups: More than 50 people signed up to participate in our four new working groups. Each group is chaired by a member of the Farm & Sea to Campus Network Steering Committee.
- Co-hosted "Local Foods for Small Campuses" Event: Thirty-two individuals from 17 different institutions with fewer than 2,500 students participated in a local food event co-hosted by Unity College and FINE. The event brought together food service directors, chefs, cooks, campus farmers from seven colleges, five residential high schools, and two hospitals.
- Presented Metrics Research at the New England Food Summit: Our staff presented on farm to institution metrics to a subset of state delegations from the New England states, including members of a cross-cutting delegation, an emerging leaders delegation, a food chain workers, delegation, and a funders delegation.
While we can’t show the logos of all of our stakeholders (that would take too much room!), this is a sampling of the many amazing organizations involved in the farm to institution value chain in New England.
FINE staff serve as the backbone of the farm to institution network in New England. Our role is to further the work of our stakeholders, who are a diverse group of advocates, public officials, institutional food service managers and chefs, food service management company staff, regional food processors, policy makers, nutrition professionals, educators, students, private foundations and others.
The FINE network brings people together to learn and share information and to identify opportunities for cooperation and collaboration. We work across the New England region and different institutional sectors. In coming together, the network identifies gaps in information and project work.
Examples of our core efforts and our work to fill gaps are identified in our milestone timeline. You will read more about them in our Building the Network section.
Thanks for being a member of the Farm to Institution New England network!
Building the Network
We facilitate connections, knowledge-sharing and communication between members of our network by providing tools and platforms that support collaboration. Here are some ways to get plugged in:
THE WORK WE DO
A big part of what we do is connect our network partners and support their work, but we also run our own projects that address specific issues along the farm to institution supply chain. This includes farm to campus network building, research and metrics tracking, food service contract support, farmer wholesale readiness assistance and more.
In January 2015 through June 2016, we focused on five core projects:
Farm & Sea to Campus
Processor Community of Practice
Maine Food for the UMaine System
The People Behind the Work
2015-2016 FINE Staff
Peter Allison, Network Director
Kaitlin Haskins, Communications Coordinator
Riley Neugebauer, Farm & Sea to Campus Project Coordinator
Nessa Richman, Metrics & Development Coordinator
Dana Stevens, Event & Project Coordinator
Through December 2015, FINE was governed by a small and active Leadership Team. In January 2016, we adopted a new style of governance with a larger Network Advisory Council. If you have any questions about this transition, contact Peter Allison at email@example.com.
Top Row: Jiff, Charlene, Stacia, Cris, Kaitlin
Bottom Row: John, Nessa, Riley, Abbie, Peter
2015 FINE Leadership Team
Charlene Andersen, New Hampshire Community Loan Fund
Kimberly Clark, Farm Fresh Rhode Island
Cris Coffin, American Farmland Trust - New England
Stacia Clinton, Health Care Without Harm - New England
Jiff Martin, UConn Cooperative Extension
Abbie Nelson, Vermont FEED and NOFA Vermont
John Waite, Franklin County Community Development Corporation
Back Row: Riley, Cris, Mark, Alicia, Brett, Annie
Middle Row: Ken, Hannah, Nessa, Charlene, Kathy, Peter
Bottom Row: Kaitlin, Kevin, Ramon, Jiff, Betsy
2016 FINE Network Advisory Council
In December 2015, we revamped our leadership structure and selected a new group of 15 individuals to serve on our new advisory council. Our council represents all six New England states, three institutional sectors, and various supply chain players.
Dozens of other people contributed to our work in 2015-2016 through project advisory boards, steering committee and volunteer roles. We couldn't have done it without them!
FINE is fortunate to have multiple funding sources that include foundation and government grants, fee for service revenue and sponsorships and donations. Some funding supports general operations and other funding is dedicated to very specific projects and activities. FINE’s fiscal year begins on July 1, although many projects begin and end during the year.
This annual report presents a summary of our funding sources and expenses for fiscal 2016. Detailed and audited financial information is provided for all funders by our fiscal sponsor, Third Sector New England*.
FY 2016 Revenue
Total revenue in FY 2016 amounted to $520,000.
The John Merck Fund
The Henry P. Kendall Foundation
USDA Food & Nutrition Service
Fee for service
Sponsorships and donations
FY 2016 EXPENSES
*Note: Third Sector New England became FINE’s fiscal sponsor on July 1, 2015. Prior to this time, Franklin County Community Development Corporation served as FINE’s fiscal sponsor.