Programs > Local Institutional Food Team > Buy Local

Why Buy Local?

Health. Sustainability. Seasonality. There are many reasons to buy local food for your institution. Our technical assistance providers recognize that there are challenges for procuring local food directly from farmers for your institution. Budgets, delivery, volume and a whole host of the other issues create barriers to working directly with farmers. LIFT wants to work with your institution to make it easier to purchase local food whether from broadline suppliers, food hubs, or direct from the farm. We help build relationship with your local farms.

Work with Existing Suppliers

Work with a FoodHub

Buy Direct from Farmers

Working with Broadline Suppliers & Distributors

Many broadline suppliers as well as regional distributors will work with local farms that meet their requirements if you ask for local products. Here are a few tools to start the conversation with your existing food service provider.

Asking for Local Food from your Distributors
Farm to Institution New England (FINE) developed the below toolkit for all institutional purchasers sourcing local food from distributors.

local food toolkit

Institutional Food Sourcing Toolkit

San Diego County Farm to School Taskforce developed the below resource on questions to ask your Vendor or Distributor when trying to source from small, local, and sustainable farms.

questions for sourcing local food document

Questions for Sourcing Local Food

Working with a FoodHub

seattle tilth logo northwest agriculture business center logo

Why buy through a FoodHub?

Puget Sound Food Hub Website Screenshot

Puget Sound Food Hub is a network of farms and partners operating cooperatively in the Puget Sound region to market, aggregate and distribute locally produced food from farm to restaurants, hospitals, preschools, grocery stores, universities and more. It is a project of the Northwest Agricultural Business Center.

Puget Sound Food Hub saves customers time and money for farmers and their customers. Customers can order from multiple farms through one vendor agreement. Customers aren’t interrupted by multiple farm deliveries. Farmers don’t have to chase customers for payments.

Single aggregated delivery is convenient for customers and reduces carbon footprint significantly. Farmers spend less money and far less time off the farm delivering to their customers. Energy costs are kept to a minimum with centralized cold storage and ensures food safety, transparency and quality for customers.

How it works:

Buy Direct from Farmers

puget sound fresh logo seattle tilth logo

Why buy direct from Producers?

Puget Sound Fresh Website Screenshot

The Puget Sound Fresh program provides both consumers and institutional buyers with resources and tools to help them identify and make informed choices on how to find and purchase seasonal and locally grown, raised or harvested foods.

The Puget Sound region supports a diversity of fresh fruits and vegetables, meats, poultry, fish and shellfish, eggs, herbs, flowers and a wide variety of value added-farm products such as preserves, ciders and wine, cheese and many others. The program also helps consumers connect with on-farm experiences such as U-Picks, special on-farm events and pumpkin patches.

How to use Puget Sound Fresh if you are an Institution

Additional Resources

How to Buy Direct from Farmers: A Purchasing Guide from NABC