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, and colleges and universities feed enormous numbers of our neighbors, many of whom wouldn’t know for sure where their next satisfying meal would come from otherwise. Farm to institution (FTI) is more than an expansion of 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 build health and create equity via food.
Are our collective efforts making a difference? This project seeks to crack the code on one of the most challenging aspects of getting good food to institutions: measuring the impact. 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.