Michigan Institutions Expand Local Food Purchasing


April 23, 2013 - Liz Gensler, <matts@msu.edu>, Kathryn Colasanti

Surveys conducted by CRFS in 2012 show growing participation and interest in local food purchasing by both institutions and farmers.

Michigan Institutions Expand Local Food Purchasing

EAST LANSING, Mich. – Many institutions are eager to put more local food on their menus and area farmers are interested in supplying it, recent surveys by the Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems demonstrate.

Since 2004, CRFS has conducted six surveys to understand the landscape of Farm to Institution efforts in Michigan. In such initiatives, institutions like schools, early childcare programs, and hospitals connect with area farmers, food producers and vendors who provide local food to the institutions. A recent analysis of data gathered in 2012 and prior Farm to Institution surveys reveals interest in the expansion of such purchasing by both producers and institutional buyers in Michigan.

“We have seen steady growth in local purchasing by food service directors across institutions since 2004,” said Dr. Michael Hamm, CRFS director. “This points to increasing potential for farmers to generate new business in these markets and for institutions to provide the fresher, local foods valued by their customers.”

Local food purchasing at K–12 schools has been the most extensively studied. Research to date shows:

  • The number of schools and districts purchasing local food has been growing, and more than half of schools now purchase local food.
  • About 90% of schools and districts are interested in purchasing local food in the future, whether currently doing so or not.
  • Fresh and whole fruits and vegetables are of greatest interest, compared to meat, dairy, grain and bean items.
  • Local foods are most commonly purchased through full-service distributors, rather than directly from farmers, farmer cooperatives or specialty distributors.

The three Farm to School surveys conducted since 2004 reveal supporting the local economy and/or helping Michigan farms and businesses as top motivators for purchasing local food. Schools are also driven by access to fresher food and access to higher quality food. The primary barriers reported by school food service providers are the limited seasonal availability of items, food safety concerns and budget constraints.



Accessibility Questions:

For questions about accessibility and/or if you need additional accommodations for a specific document, please send an email to ANR Communications & Marketing at anrcommunications@anr.msu.edu.