Posted July 20, 2018
The following is an excerpt from a recent article by Ecotrust. Header photo courtesy of Ecotrust.
An important piece of creating a food system that fosters health and community with every bite is working with anchor institutions throughout our region. Schools, hospitals, colleges and universities feed enormous numbers of us and our neighbors, and are the most reliable sources of food many kids and families have.
Farm to institution not only leverages and enhances our decade-long commitment to farm to school, it is a key strategy in a broad effort to overcome food insecurity, invest in the health and well-being of our next generation, and work proactively to create more equitable communities via food.
Are our collective efforts making a difference? Owing to the competitive nature of food distribution, it can be exceedingly difficult to access data on the amount of local food making it to institutions, and to evaluate the success of outreach and education efforts like those conducted by the NW Food Buyers’ Alliance (NWFBA) in the Portland metro area, or the Local Institutional Food Team (LIFT) in Seattle.
To illuminate this key challenge and engage others in helping devise creative solutions, Ecotrust has created a Farm to Institution Metrics Platform. This platform helps identify important gaps in the available data, and will facilitate ongoing measurement and evaluation. Our thinking and work on this effort has been informed by Ecotrust’s participation in a National Farm to Institution Metrics Collaborative, which includes like-minded partners from around the United States who are keen to develop a common set of key indicators, and to share learning from region to region.