Chefs, restaurants, retailers, and food service directors agree that the biggest barrier to sourcing local food is 'finding farmers.' At its core, value chain coordination is the values-based connection of regional supply chain businesses for market channel development.
Value chain professionals (VCPs) work with suppliers (farmers and food businesses) and buyers (chefs, food services, distributors) to remove barriers for local food purchasing. VCPs build economic networks and assess the needs of those in the food system and connect stakeholders with technical assistance and regulatory agencies. Value chain coordinators serve as a central point of contact for food system stakeholders in the region where they work.
What are value chains?
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.
Suppliers and Buyers
Reach out to your value chain professional!
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?
Anthony Tarullo is the value chain professional for Eat Local Southwestern Indiana. His goal is to improve the region's economy by supporting the growers and farmers in our own community, positively affecting public health by creating equitable food access for under-resourced individuals, as well as local institutions. We endeavor to create and increase resilience among local and regional producers and consumers, attract economic development, and in turn improve quality of place.
For Farmers: Reach out to schedule a time to discuss your market channel access and ideas. As the value chain coordinator for the southwestern region of Indiana, Eat Local SWI spends their time listening to farmers, where they would like to sell, and connecting them with the buyers who share their values.
For Buyers: Reach out if you are interested in buying local food for your business or institution. Eat Local SWI is available to discuss options and strategies with you as a buyer, and to alleviate some of the extra time it takes to onboard local suppliers.
The NWI Food Council is a multi-stakeholder alliance that works to build a just, sustainable, and thriving locally-oriented food system for all in Northwest Indiana through networking, education, advocacy, and projects. We are a grassroots nonprofit organization that launched in December 2015 as a result of community input at the Local Food Summit held in April 2015. Through programs, projects, and partnerships, we seek to address the gaps in our regional food system and value chain.
By working collaboratively to rebuild our local food chains and infrastructure, we will ensure that the local food system secures a central role in a transitioning and vibrant local economy. We are committed to providing innovation and leadership in food systems work, with an eye toward food security as a pathway to the improved resilience of our community.
Just as the farmers we work with prioritize the stewardship of their land and sustainable food production, the Council values the stewardship of our local communities and environments in building a more sustainable and resilient region. Improving market access for local farmers and producers will ensure the continued growth of these individuals and their businesses, thus emphasizing a shift to sustainable industries. Our seven-county region spends nearly $2.3 billion dollars on food each year, but less than 2% of that purchasing power is directed towards our region’s farmers and food producers ($3.7million). Institutional and wholesale purchasing programs are uniquely poised to support and accelerate the growth of the local food economy by the sheer scale of their purchasing power.
Pam Reike and Oak Hawk are the value chain professionals in SE Indiana working through the network support partner, the Food and Growers Association.
They work with small to mid size farms in the region and connect them to buyers such as schools, restaurants and opportunities in the greater Cincinnati area.
The Food & Growers Association (FGA) is the oldest local food farmer organization in Indiana and continues to support the regional food economy in SE Indiana through multiple initiatives. The FGA was formed to respond to the need of farmers, parents and health professionals who see the connections between community health improvement, sustainable agriculture and a viable local economy in Southeastern Indiana.
In addition to the focused efforts of Pam Reike as the value chain professional, Nourishing Connections is an initiative to support food businesses through a shared-use kitchen, The Galley, for market and consumer development.
We at Fischer Farms are a Southern Indiana producer of all natural beef. Over the last 150 years, six generations of Fischers have farmed our rolling hills. About 15 years ago, we started selling directly to customers with the mission of making it easier for customers to source local, natural, sustainable meat. We partner with our neighbors to supply pork, turkey, eggs, produce, and other products. Our goal is to make it easier for both customers and producers to get a wide range of fresh, top quality products on the plates of restaurants and the shelves of retail stores.
We are excited to partner with other Indiana Value Chain Coordinators to work to strengthen the network of farmers and wholesale customers. We believe that a stronger network is more capable of addressing the perceived barriers of local food sourcing. We believe we can make a significant impact on the environment, economies, and overall food quality in our communities.
Sustainable Food Systems Science resources and social media channels