Indiana Farm Connect is a research and implementation project aimed at connecting suppliers and buyers in our local and regional food systems in Indiana. Focusing on increasing sales of local food to wholesale buyers throughout the state, four value chain coordinators have been hired by our grant partner organizations. They will spend time talking with buyers, farmers, distributors, aggregators, processors and organizations to better understand the needs, suggest strategies for change, and build networks to drive economic opportunities for Indiana’s agricultural and food systems.
What is a value chain coordinator?
Rather than building a food hub or leaving farmers and buyers to connect on their own, value chain coordinators work to build economic networks by connecting food supply chain partners and assessing the needs of those in the food system to connect them with technical assistance or regulatory agencies. It is a person who is a central point of contact for food system stakeholders in the region where they work.
Why a ‘value’ chain?
Farmers and buyers may have certain values they are seeking in food stuffs that are part of their decision on whether or not to buy. Values can include: local, fresh, high-quality, pasture-based meats, certified Organic, regional, non-GMO. Values can also be part of an adopted standards program such as the Real Food Challenge, Good Food Purchasing Program, Healthcare Without Harm, or the Green Restaurant Association. These programs have standards and metrics that enable institutional buyers to establish criteria for purchasing that will help them choose more sustainably produced food.
BUYERS: One part of our research will focus on the current purchasing dollars and habits of private and public institutions throughout the state. By quantifying dollars spent purchasing food and what types of food are purchased, we will be able to examine and model how a shift in expenditures to local would impact our economy.
Be counted!! Please add your institutional buying information to our database by completing this IndianaBuyerSurvey.
FARM and FOOD BUSINESSES: Are you interested in exploring how to connect with wholesale buyers in your region? Are you already selling some wholesale food, but would like to do more? Are you interested in redirecting a portion of what you grow for more local sales to institutional buyers like schools, universities, retirement villages, workplaces and hospitals? Not sure where to begin? Consider reaching out to one of our value chain coordinators, who will be in touch to work with you on your goals.
Funder: USDA Local Food Promotion Grant #AM180100XXXXG124
Project Team at IU: Jodee Ellett, Angela Babb
Project Team at Purdue University: Drs. Rhonda Phillips and Betty Feng
External Project Partners: Wallace Center at Winrock International; and Family Farmed
Implementation Partners (organizations hosting a value chain coordinator)