What is Farm to Institution?

Schools, governments, hospitals and other institutions can make a tremendous impact in the fight towards a more sustainable and healthy food system. Why? To put it simply, they're big, and when big places make changes, they affect a big number of people. In working towards policies that focus on more healthful, local and sustainable food, institutions model healthy food environment. With each meal that an institution serves, it's setting an example. Most people eat outside of the house, whether feeding patients our nourishing next generation you have an opportunity to feed good food and create a model environment where the healthy choice is the easy choice.  

Where institutions spend their millions in food budgets makes a difference. When you change your procurement policies to focus on healthy, sustainably produced food, you're investing in clean air, water, and environments. Institutions have the opportunity to invest in a culture of health. There are many pathways to engage, see below to see what might be the right fit for you.


Michigan Farm to Institution Network

If you are not purchasing, but you are a supporter of farm to institution efforts and want to learn more or stay involved, join the Michigan Farm to Institution Network! MFIN is a space for learning, sharing and working together to get more local food to institutions. Institutions such as hospitals, early childhood programs, schools, and colleges find, buy and use Michigan foods; Farmers and food suppliers offer the local foods institutions want in the ways they need, and Eaters at institutions identify, value and enjoy local foods.

The Michigan Farm to Institution Network is a space for learning, sharing and working together to get more local food to institutions to reach the goal of the Michigan Good Food Charter--purchasing 20 percent of their food from local Michigan producers by 2020. It is a collaboration of the Ecology Center and Michigan State University’s Center for Regional Food Systems.

The Michigan Farm to Institution Network helps:

  • Farmers and food suppliers offer the local foods institutions want in the ways they need;
  • Institutions such as hospitals, schools, preschools, and colleges find, buy and use local foods; and
  • Eaters at institutions identify, value and enjoy local foods.

Network membership is open to institutional food service directors and buyers as well as farmers, food suppliers, advocates, supporters, and researchers.


Cultivate Michigan 

Whether your institution is just getting started with sourcing Michigan foods or is working toward set goals, Cultivate Michigan has the resources to help you find, buy and use local foods. Joining Cultivate Michigan is free and open to foodservice buyers at any Michigan institution, including early childhood programs, K-12 schools, colleges and universities, hospitals and health systems, and long-term care facilities. Ready to get started? Here are your first steps


Healthy Food in Health Care

All aspects of the food system, from farm to plate, are explicitly connected to health. However, our current food system favors industrial farms, synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, and the misuse of antibiotics. Healthcare institutions are increasingly recognizing their role in a new health paradigm, as environmental concerns over our damaged food system converge with healthcare’s interest in preventing disease and promoting health. Health care institutions have an excellent opportunity to affect positive change by leveraging their purchasing power -- now 18 percent of the GDP -- and engaging health professionals in improving community health through access to sustainable food.

Michigan has the second most diverse agricultural production in the country. Unfortunately, 59 percent of our residents live in a place that has inadequate access to the food they need for a healthy daily diet. With the help of our expert staff at the Ecology Center, health care institutions are making Michigan a leader in shaping a food system that supports prevention-based health care by involvement in our Healthy Food in Health Care program, which is part of the national campaign Health Care Without Harm.

The Healthy Food in Health Care program now has the opportunity to bring the voice of Michigan clinicians to a national network of health professionals who are working to preserve antibiotics by ending the misuse in industrialized livestock and poultry production; prevent pesticides and other chemicals from ending up in our food supply and contaminating our bodies and natural resources; and promote a “less meat, better meat” approach to climate change.

Published on February 24, 2017


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