Appendix C

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Tip Sheet for Food Service Management Companies & Group Purchasing Organizations

One of the key recommendations presented in this toolkit is the development of internal food service management company (FSMC) support for procurement of local food. We recommend the following strategies:

Part A: One of the main challenges FSMCs face in procuring local products is that they need to aggregate from multiple farms to achieve the appropriate quantity which can be very time consuming. Therefore, it is recommended that FSMCs hire a local procurement specialist for each region of the country. This extra staff support will provide the person-power needed to work with multiple producers. If a local procurement representative exists with a FSMCs, improved efforts are needed to ensure that this resource is utilized.

Part B: A common challenge cited by FSMCs is the lack of adequate supply from local producers. To address this issue, we recommend that companies start with a focus on three to five products that are grown in abundance in each region. This approach will allow the companies to pilot integration of local producers into their ordering systems around a small number of products, enabling them to work out any glitches before ramping up.

Part C: There is minimal infrastructure throughout New England to enable small and mid-sized farms to sell directly to FSMCs or through distributors at the quantities needed by large institutions. It is recommended that FSMCs develop a regional infrastructure grant program to help the supply grow to meet demand. Such infrastructure may include processing plants, slaughter facilities, aggregators, distributors and more. All of these types of facilities play an important role in enabling institutional clients to benefit from the diverse agricultural landscape in New England.

Part D: Farmers need technical assistance in learning how to work with large distributors, meet the needs of institutional clients and obtain the necessary certifications. It is recommended that FSMCs hold bi-annual training seminars to provide this type of assistance to producers. It is also recommended that participation in this training be accompanied by a small grant to help farmers complete the process. Part E Most FSMCs require suppliers to be GAP certified. This process is cumbersome and expensive. It is recommended that companies change this policy to accept state GAP certification in lieu of the federal certification that does not take into account the realities of small farms in New England.