Recent surveys by the Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems (CRFS) demonstrate that many institutions in the state are eager to put more local food on their menus and area farmers are interested in supplying it.
The survey found that more than half of Michigan's schools and districts now purchasing local food and 90 percent are interested in purchasing more in the future. Meanwhile, as of December 2012, 114 of the state’s nearly 150 hospitals had committed to locally source 20 percent of their food by 2020 through the Michigan Health & Hospital Association’s Healthy Food Hospitals initiative.
CRFS also surveyed vegetable farmers and found that half of respondents were interested in selling to at least one type of institution (school, hospital or college/university), though only about six percent did at the time of the survey.
For schools, fresh and whole fruits and vegetables are of greatest interest, compared to meat, dairy, grain and bean items. Local foods are most commonly purchased through full-service distributors, rather than directly from farmers, farmer cooperatives or specialty distributors.The primary barriers reported by school food service providers are the limited seasonal availability of items, food safety concerns and budget constraints.