Shocking Headline: Distributors Slow To Embrace Local Food Movement

It makes sense that distributors would have some issue with the local food thing, right? This is a big sticking point for schools and hospitals who want to serve more locally-sourced food, but for institutional reasons must deal with distributors.  This Vermont Public Radio piece says the two biggest barriers are finding local suppliers who can meet USDA guidelines and the upfront costs to distributors who might have to revamp cost-efficient warehouses and other systems to deal with local producers.

But the story ends on a hopeful note:

In Dane County, Wis., an innovative effort is under way to reconcile these two issues.

Olivia Parry runs the Institutional Food Market Coalition out of the county’s Office of Planning and Development. It began as a program to create more business for the small and mid-sized family farms in and around Madison, and targets institutional markets

At first, Parry had to beg businesses to show up at her meetings. But by last year, the program moved more than a million pounds of local food into institutions in southern Wisconsin.

One resource that she uses is Local Dirt, a national online marketplace for local food.

“We have found a chicken farmer through them that has free-range chickens,” Miller says.

Miller is expecting a delivery of 100 birds in early May.

“We’ve had samples already, and they are fabulous compared to what we used to be getting,” she says.

A hundred chickens is just a drop in the bucket (har) but it’s a start. —Snacktime