Book cover

Making Local Sourcing Standard Practice: Lessons From Michigan

September 11, 2018 - Kathryn Colasanti, <>, & Kaitlin K. Wojciak

Michigan has been on the leading edge of the national farm-to-institution trend, witnessing substantial increases in local food procurement activity over the past ten years. In this chapter, we examine the three arenas that have had the most impact in advancing farm-to-institution activity in the state: state government policy, non-profit and agriculture extension agency facilitation, and supply chain partnerships.


Key words

farm-to-school; farm-to-institution; local food; networks



Colasanti, K., Matts, C., & Wojciak, K. (2018). Making local sourcing standard practice: Lessons from Michigan. In S. E. Thottathil & A. M. Goger (Eds.), Institutions as conscious food consumers: Leveraging purchasing power to drive systems change (149-173). Cambridge: Academic Press.


Corresponding Author

Kathryn Colasanti 


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From the chapter's introduction:

The agricultural diversity in Michigan, which is second only to California in the number of different crops cultivated commercially, provides extensive opportunities to source Michigan foods. In our personal observations in Michigan, the most motivated and forward-thinking foodservice professionals take advantage of the agricultural diversity around them by initiating relationships with local growers and suppliers.

Research focusing on Michigan shows that the K-12 schools engaged in local sourcing (approximately 54 percent), purchase through a variety of suppliers: 80 percent through breadline (full-service) distributors, 58 percent through federal food programs, 14 percent directly from local farmers, and 3 percent through food hubs. However, it is only through nearly two decades of dedicated funding, outreach, technical assistance, and advocacy that Michigan is moving toward widespread adoption of local food sourcing.

We start the chapter by sharing the history of farm-to-institution activity and organizations in Michigan. We then discuss the lessons evident in the role various actors have played in supporting farm-to-institution activity. We follow this with case studies of three different institutions: a child development center, a juvenile detention facility, and a hospital system.

Each example highlights the ways in which personnel are making local sourcing a standard practice of their foodservice program and the organizational motivations underlying these changes. We pull from our own research and work, as participants of farm-to-institution activities in Michigan, to illustrate our points.

We conclude by reflecting on how collective efforts are leading toward the institutionalization of farm-to-institution, in which local sourcing in institutional foodservice moves from a niche activity to a widespread standard practice.


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