The Virginia Food System Council is working to advance farm to institution practices and purchasing across the state.
Why farm to institution?
- Providing healthy, nutritious food
- Supporting the local economy
- Improving food access
- Increasing awareness of the local food system and farming
- Developing a connection between food and farming
- Supporting small family farms and agricultural land preservation
The Virginia Food System Council has had the $10/Week Pledge in place for a few years to encourage households to commit to spending $10 per week on purchasing local foods. Now we want to expand beyond households and encourage institutions and businesses to commit to spending 10% of their annual food budget on Virginia fruits and vegetables. The 10% Campaign aims to increase the knowledge of opportunities and barriers to farm to institution purchasing and promote collaborative partnerships among institutional purchasers and growers across the state. We want to create tools and strategies for institutions to track their local food purchasing, connect farm to institution resources, and share success stories.
To increase the production and consumption of locally grown produce in Virginia institutions (hospitals, universities, businesses, senior care facilities, military facilities) through these goals:
- Enlist large volume procurers, beginning with institutions such as hospitals and hospital systems, colleges and universities, and military installations, to join our campaign and to track the amount of local food purchased annually; expanding as feasible to senior care, government agencies, businesses, and food stores.
- Showcase success stories and progress.
- Promote linkages among various sectors of the food system such as production, distribution/aggregation, and procurement.
- Promote and track the $10/Week Campaign via VDACS’ punchcard program data using Farmers Market liaisons, our website/newsletters, and the annual drawing.
- Develop professional branding and educational materials to market these efforts, as well as to offer for institutions to tailor for their own use.
- Track increased acreage for specialty crops through collaboration with various organizations.
Institutions in Virginia (healthcare, higher education, senior care, military, as well as businesses and government entities) predominantly recognize the benefits of procuring locally grown produce: to build community economies, increase sustainable practices, and improve health by increasing consumption of specialty crop foods. Results include more viable farms of all sizes; more GAP credentialing; more farm stands and CSAs on hospital grounds, campuses, etc.; and tracking and sharing of local food purchasing budgets, with the goal of increasing the annual amount spent on local foods by institutions.
Success stories are recorded and highlighted on the VFSC website and publications, as well as in reports to both network organizations and legislators. Best practices and any resources will be promoted and shared by the VFSC.
Is your business or organization already purchasing and serving local Virginia fruits and vegetables? Share your story with us!