Holly Freishtat, a food & society policy fellow and media coordinator for Health Care Without Harm, an organization that promotes environmentally responsible...
Holly Freishtat, a food & society policy fellow and media coordinator for Health Care Without Harm, an organization that promotes environmentally responsible practices for hospitals, advises on how to introduce locally sourced food programs:
Start at the easiest time, in the summer and fall. As you develop a system, you can expand over the whole year because there are products that you can store, like potatoes and apples, or that you can source as needed.
Begin small and go with seasonal foods first. Contact your distributor and GPO. They may not have what you’re looking for, but it’s good to ask. The distributor wants to satisfy you so if you keep asking they are going to provide it. Otherwise they know you’ll look for another source.
A lot of operators are concerned about costs. If you try to do everything the same, it could be more expensive. One option is not to provide as many choices, but the fewer choices you do provide are excellent. When you’re buying in-season, you can have the competitive prices.
Also, be realistic about sourcing locally. Realize that if you’re a hospital with huge needs, a small-scale farmer won’t be able to meet your needs or price point. A mid-sized farmer who already wholesales and has contact with distributors is going to have competitive prices.
Excerpt from FoodService Director Magazine’s September 15, 2007 article, “Sourcing Locally.” Reprinted with permission of Ideal Media, LLC. Note that while this article focuses on healthcare, these locally-sourced tips can be applied to any foodservice industry segment.