Michigan Farm to Institution Network to unveil local food campaign

Launch set for April 3 in Lansing

The Michigan Farm to Institution Network, a statewide collaboration to put more locally grown food on the plates served to students, patients, visitors and employees at institutions across the state, will be inaugurated at a day-long program meeting April 3 in Lansing.

Hillary Bisnett, director of the Ecology Center’s Healthy Food in Health Care program, has worked with Colleen Matts at Michigan State University’s Center for Regional Food Systems, among many other partners, to launch the initiative.

“We’re planning to unveil a coordinated local purchasing campaign to help institutions reach the ‘20 percent by 2020’ goal of the Michigan Good Food Charter,” Bisnett said. Many institutions across the state have committed to purchasing 20 percent of their total food supplies from local sources by 2020.

The April 3 program will begin at 10 a.m. at the Crowne Plaza Lansing West, 925 S. Creyts Rd. in Lansing, and conclude with a reception at 4:30 p.m. Registration for the program, $25, includes lunch and the reception.

“In addition to a full program, the day will provide opportunities to network and connect with chefs, food service directors, farmers, distributors and community organizations all interested in supporting local farm-to-institution efforts,” Bisnett said.

MSU’s Center for Regional Food Systems has been working on farm-to-school programs for a decade and it have been broadening efforts to include institutional food purchasing and a partnership with Ecology Center’s farm-to-hospital efforts only makes sense. The two partners have led the development of the local purchasing campaign, now branded “Cultivate Michigan: Supply, Source and Serve Local Food,” to re-energize the movement. Bisnett said. “We have commitments from more than 100 hospitals in the state to meet the Michigan Good Food Charter goal for institutions and this coordination is what we need to take our work to the next level.”

The Michigan Farm to Institutions Network will work with farmers, distributors and other food vendors, food-service buyers and supporters across the state.

“We’ll be working with farmers, food processors and food suppliers to help them understand what types of products and volumes institutions need,” Bisnett said. “And we’ll build on collaborations with hospitals, schools, pre-K programs, and colleges to help them locate, purchase and use these products. We also want to help students, patients, visitors and employees at these institutions recognize, understand and enjoy local foods.”

The Michigan Farm to Institutions Network has received support from the Kresge Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Americana Foundation and United States Department of Agriculture.

For more information contact Alyson Oslin at alyson@ecocenter.org or (734) 369-9273, or register here.

EcoLink — February 2014
An online publication of the Ecology Center

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