Schools, post-secondary, healthcare institutions and Crown corporations collectively purchase millions of dollars’ worth of food annually, yet little is known around how much local food has been purchased. At the same time, their large purchasing power and role as public facilities put institutions in a unique position to be positive drivers for growing our local and sustainable food economy. As the buy-local food movement continues to grow, more and more institutions across Canada are shifting their focus towards providing healthier, fresh, local and sustainable foods within their food service operation.
This report illustrates the findings from Manitoba on the Menu, a pilot project that explored the opportunities and challenges for purchasing local food within Manitoba’s institutions. A number of common but complex challenges explain why many independent producers and processors are still largely underrepresented within institutions. Price, time, labour issues and lack of administrative support can make it difficult for institutions to purchase local food. But this report also illustrates existing and emerging leaders of local food procurement in our province, including Diversity Food Services, a food service that works directly with local producers and prioritizes scratch cooking, as well as Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries, a Crown corporation that has made a goal to purchase 25 percent local food. After purchasing butter from a local creamery, they now inject $60,000 directly into the local food economy annually.
Although we still have a long road ahead of us in supporting local food procurement on a large scale, there are institutions in Manitoba that illustrate that they can play a direct role in better supporting our local producers, businesses and local economy.
Manitoba on the Menu Coordinator
Food Matters Manitoba