Farm to Institution Colorado

Farm to Institution

Farm to Institution Colorado

Farm to Institution header

In 2017, Nourish Colorado and the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union (RMFU) partnered with UCCS to learn more about Colorado’s Farm to Institution success stories from Farm to Early Care and K-12, Colleges and Universities, and Hospitals. Ten institutions were studied from which commonalities were identified. 

In order to communicate the results of this inquiry, we decided on video materials to provide a lively, positive, and inspiring learning experience for institutions that are interested in integrating value-based food procurement. We decided to develop materials that can be included into inservice training sessions aimed at food service teams, managers, and procurement specialists, as well as educators, who may be intersecting with dining teams through student or intern projects. In addition, we wanted to highlight the work of farmers and chefs in an attempt to inspire their reconnection as we believe it to be an essential component of a thriving Colorado food system.

Institutional procurement of local food is critical to provide, among others, livelihood to Colorado's mid-size family farms that are too large for farmers market and yet too small for large-scale distributors (eg. Sysco or US Foods). These mid-size farms often rely on local food hubs for distribution (e.g., Taproot Cooperative), as food hubs provide ordering platforms and distribution pathways, while also covering liability insurance. Institutions can help sustain these family farms, which are mostly located in rural Colorado. One critical piece of information on local procurement is the fact that even small commitments (e.g., 10-20% of total procurement) toward alternative, value-based food systems can move the dial on economics of rural communities and boost agricultural viability (see table of our research below). 

Finally, Colorado is currently evaluating institutional policies that might be unnecessary barriers to successful procurement from local sources. If you are interested in learning more check this paper published by Colorado Food System Advisory Council (COFSAC). 

Farm and food literacy is needed for everyone in the institution, including the institution's leadership but also customers such as clients, students, and patients utilizing the institution. Thriving farm and food systems in Colorado are dependent on a strong demand. Institutions can make a big impact in sustaining and even rebuilding viable farming operations and strengthen a region's food culture (think Pueblo Chile) and food/nutrition security. 

We hope to bring you a "good portion" of farm and food literacy, highlighted in 3 videos. The first video positions the "Dream" of a thriving food system in Colorado, partially supported by institutional procurement. This video is a good first step and can be shared with a diverse set of viewers, including administrators, to build the case for local procurement. The video for Farm to Early Care and K-12 is aimed at Farm to School programs but can also be viewed by those in higher education. Unfortunately, we are missing a Farm to College/Higher Education from our collection at this time. Finally, the Farm to Hospital video is aimed at healthcare institutions which can also be combined with the "Dream". If you have questions or comments regarding these videos please do not hesitate to contact Dr. Nanna Meyer at The videos are available for screening through the SWELL, RMFU, and Nourish Colorado Youtube Channels. 

We thank our collaborators, including farmers, food hub coordinators, food service workers, chefs, dietitians, nurses, educators, students, and patients for their willingness to work with us on these films. We also thank our producer, Rob Bowen (Permanent Marker) and his mentor Dave Gardner (Growth Busters), for their excellent work on these films. 

Watch our Farm to Institution Trailer!

Watch this "DREAM" video first as it summarizes the project and sets the tone for a different future in institutional food service! 

Farm to Early Care & K-12 Video

Farm to Hospital Video