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Adv Nutr. 2012 May 1;3(3):343-9. doi: 10.3945/an.111.001677.

Farm to institution: creating access to healthy local and regional foods.

Author information

  • 1Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA, USA. dmharris@cdc.gov

Abstract

Farm to Institution (FTI) programs are one approach to align food service operations with health and sustainability guidelines, such as those recently developed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and General Services Administration. Programs and policies that support sourcing local and regional foods for schools, hospitals, faith-based organizations, and worksites may benefit institutional customers and their families, farmers, the local community, and the economy. Different models of FTI programs exist. On-site farmer's markets at institutions have been promoted on federal government property, healthcare facilities, and private institutions nationwide. Farm to School programs focus on connecting schools with local agricultural production with the goal of improving school meals and increasing intake of fruits and vegetables in children. Sourcing food from local farms presents a number of challenges including cost and availability of local products, food safety, and liability considerations and lack of skilled labor for food preparation. Institutions utilize multiple strategies to address these barriers, and local, state, and federal polices can help facilitate FTI approaches. FTI enables the purchasing power of institutions to contribute to regional and local food systems, thus potentially affecting social, economic, and ecological systems. Local and state food policy councils can assist in bringing stakeholders together to inform this process. Rigorous research and evaluation is needed to determine and document best practices and substantiate links between FTI and multiple outcomes. Nutritionists, public health practitioners, and researchers can help communities work with institutions to develop, implement, and evaluate programs and policies supporting FTI.

PMID:
22585910
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3649468
Free PMC Article
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