Lane County Food Distribution

The Lane County Food Distribution Project assited Lane County schools, colleges, and hospitals in sourcing more food from local farms and distributors. Oregon Solutions brought farmers, distributors, nonprofits and institutions together to increase the market for locally-produced food by overcoming barriers of aggregation, distribution, storage, processing, and building connections through the development of matchmaking resources.

Problem

Schools, colleges, and hospitals in Lane County struggle to serve locally grown food. Institutions face tight budgets, limited storage, and fixed menus with out-of-season ingredients. Cafeterias serve volumes of food beyond what an individual farm might grow. Buyers typically lack the time and resources needed to track down multiple ingredients from various sources, much less pick up and process the produce for their kitchens.

Solution

Bolstered farm-to-cafeteria efforts in Lane County requires linking buyers and growers by developing and distributing information about what is being grown locally and what is needed for purchase, and collaborating within the food industry to aggregate, process, and deliver food to area schools, colleges, and hospitals.

Objectives

  • Increase the amount and value of local food purchased by institutions in Lane County
  • Compile and distribute information about what local farms and distributors have available, and what local institutional buyers need
  • Collaborate to aggregate, store, process, and deliver purchased food to institutions
  • Support and expand FoodHub, a web-based matchmaking site that links food growers and producers with food buyers
  • Promote farm-to-cafeteria efforts such as an institutional shift to seasonal menus
  • Survey over 200 farms to identify their capacity and interest in selling to local schools
  • Support the distribution of surplus crops to school districts
  • Communicate institutional requirements and guidelines for box sizes, pack sizes, etc. to local farmers
  • Seek grants that support the purchase, marketing and distribution of local food
  • Track local food purchases made by Lane County institutions

Results

  • Over $600,000 in food products purchased by Lane County institutions in 2009
  • Bethel School District now sources 18% of food purchases from Lane County
  • Ten farms now sell to local schools
  • Local food purchases increased from 19,700 pounds to 46,600 pounds in 2009
  • Lane County School District purchased over $150,000 in local foods in 2009

Additional Resources

FoodHub, Ecotrust


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