This document is intended to help universities, colleges, hospitals, and other institutions – as well as those advocating for food system change – create, promote and implement practical sustainable food purchasing policies.
It draws from the successes and lessons learned by a variety of institutions from within the United States, and from the experience of for-profit and nonprofit partners that have worked with institutions in this arena. This document does not promote any particular policy positions, but rather offers a framework to help you develop policies that will be meaningful and achievable for your institution. This document is a product of the Sustainable Food Policy Project, which was initiated in 2006 to support efforts by educational, healthcare and other institutions to have a positive impact on the food system through purchasing.
Many regional public procurement strategies are now being developed and are actively seeking to meet wider sustainability aims.
Creativity in defining the procurement need may be one of the strongest lines of opportunity for realizing sustainable development objectives. If the objective is to provide healthy meals for schoolchildren, for example, there may be several ways in which this can be done. For example, through setting up separate supply and delivery contracts, linked to initiatives that support opportunities for local trading such as ‘meet the buyer’ events and more proactive approaches to inviting interest by local producers.
This report presents a community food system plan developed through community consultation to guide action for the creation of a healthy food system for Sarnia-Lambton.
The "food system" includes all of the activities and relationships related to every aspect of the food cycle, including growing, harvesting, transporting, processing, distributing, marketing, selling, preparing, consuming, and disposing of food. A healthy community food system integrates all of the pieces of the food system to enhance the environmental, economic, social and nutritional health of a community.
Our food system has become increasingly globalized over the past few decades. Whereas a century ago most food was consumed in a relatively short distance from where it was produced, our diets today consist of foods from all corners of the globe.
The trend toward increasing distances between producers and consumers has prompted many to question the environmental and social sustainability of our food choices. Local farms are struggling to compete with larger, more industrialized farms in warmer climates. Products from California, for example, are dependent on publicly funded roads and transportation networks, and on vast subsidized irrigation networks that are not factored into the cost of food. This food is sent all over the continent, supplanting local production, because the price of the food is not reflecting the real costs associated with its production. The real costs of food production include environmental costs, such as the effects of climate change due to increased CO2 emissions from increased food transportation, as well as social degradation due to the loss of farms and rural communities, to name a few.