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Purchasing Baseline Toolkit

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This toolkit is for those that are ready to get into the nitty-gritty details of changing the food on campus. This toolkit should be started after the Food Service Overview and may be done at the same time as the Supply Chain Assessment! By the end of this toolkit, you’ll understand how big food service providers and distributors work. It will provide you with ideas and processes for how you can work together. You’ll also have some clear opportunities to get more local and sustainable food onto your campus.

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Purchasing Baseline Toolkit

  1. 1. PURCHASING BASELINE TOOLKIT This toolkit is for those that are ready to get into the nitty-gritty details of changing where food on campus is coming from and how it is being produced. This toolkit should be started after the Food Service Overview and may be done at the same time as the Supply Chain Assessment! By the end of this toolkit, you’ll understand how big food service providers and distributors work. You’ll also have some clear opportunities to get more local and sustainable food onto your campus.
  2. 2. Applied Student Research Toolkit 2 The Campus Food Systems Project builds the student movement to get healthy, local sustainable food onto university campuses in Canada. The CFSP launched in October 2011 to work with campuses across the country. The project aims to help students improve the multi-stakeholder organizing, procurement practices, and research capacity of their institutions. By doing so, students have unlocked the potential for Universities to lead the healthy, local and sustainable food movement. The resources used, best practices developed, and lessons learned from these campuses are shared on studentfood.ca to inspire and support change on campuses nationwide. This project was developed by Sierra Youth Coalition and Meal Exchange, two national organizations with over 20 years of experience bringing students, faculty and administration together on university campuses to deliver social justice and environmental programs. The partnership of our organizations on this initiative was supported by three years of funding from the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation. For questions or further support, contact national@studentfood.ca Sierra Youth Coalition 1 Nicholas, Suite 1510-1 K1N 7B7 Ottawa, ON (613) 241-1615 syc-cjs.org Meal Exchange 365-401 Richmond Street M5V 3A8 Toronto, ON (416) 657-4489 www.mealexchange.com This toolkit was last updated May 2014. This work is license under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. To view a copy at this license, visit: http//:creativecommons.org/license/by-nc-nc/3.0/
  3. 3. Applied Student Research Toolkit 3 Introduction and Goals The Idea This toolkit will help you to continue building a healthy, just and sustainable food system on your campus. The Purchasing Baseline Assessment, also referred to as a Purchasing or Procurement Audit, is a tool to help you determine where the food on your campus is coming from now. Once you have this information, you, your food services team, other students and stakeholders can determine how your campus can make changes to improve food purchasing. These changes can help to support the social, ecological and economic goals of your community. This toolkit is meant to be used after the completing the Food Service Overview, which provides the groundwork for understanding the specifics of how food service providers on your campus are generally purchasing food. The Purchasing Baseline Assessment will support you to discuss the specifics about what’s actually being purchased and how improvements towards more local and sustainable options can be made. What’s in this Toolkit • Suggestions on how to approach and work with your campus food service team: Questions to guide your conversations and processes • A Guide to finding solutions: Ideas of how to tie this into your campus food movement • Examples and best practices from other institutions: Background reading including guides, case studies, and examples of Purchasing Baseline Assessments
  4. 4. Applied Student Research Toolkit 4 The Purchasing Baseline Assessment Process 1. Set a goal Before beginning a purchasing baseline assessment, it is important to define what you’d like to achieve from this process. This could be decided by students, a multi-stakeholder group, or in collaboration with food services. Example Goal: “We want to know the percentage of local, sustainable and just food products our campus is purchasing (starting with milk, eggs, and produce). The purchasing baseline assessment will identify gaps in our knowledge and help our campus set targets to improve our food system in the future.” 2. Determine scope, priorities and process There is a lot of information that can be explored in a purchasing baseline assessment. Here are important questions to guide you in determining your scope: • Who will be involved in this process? What are their roles? • Who will be leading this audit? • What products will you be looking into? • Do you have a predetermined definition of local, sustainable or just? • What is the estimated timeline? You can ask these questions with your food service team and other stakeholders to help guide your process! Hint: Most dining halls already order some local products all year (e.g. milk, eggs) and some others when it’s cheap (e.g. local produce). Start by asking your food service team what they know they are already buying local and how to promote that. This can both be a good way to build interest and trust with your food service provider, and to raise awareness about local food on campus. Then you can move onto some of the tougher questions and areas of uncertainty.
  5. 5. Applied Student Research Toolkit 5 3. Gather information You’ll need to work with your food service team to access invoices to start identifying what purchases are local, which purchases have certifications and where there are information gaps. This is a time to collect product and contact information on the foods you want to audit, including prices, SKUs and volumes. As you’re collecting data, it will be useful to organize it in a database or spreadsheet. It will be important to note what information you find or gaps you encourage. In areas where there is uncertainty (i.e. we don’t know where any of our flours or oats come from), you will likely need to work with your food service provider to speak to your distributors or suppliers to find out more information about such products. It’s important to gather information (invoices) from two periods of the year (e.g.. Fall and Spring) to have a yearly average that reflects more than one season’s purchasing.
  6. 6. Applied Student Research Toolkit 6 For tips on how to gather, organize, and analyze information, scroll down to The Approach and Questions to Consider sections 4. Organize and Analyze Now it is time to determine how much information you have and what unknown gaps remain. After speaking with both your food service providers and distributors, you should have an idea of what information is challenging to obtain and why, what information you will be able to obtain, and what information is easy to track. Of the information you can retrieve, can you determine how many dollars (and what %) are spent on local food, and on products that have ecological, animal welfare, or work rights certifications? 5. Integrate Your next step is integrating this knowledge, or these knowledge gaps, with your other work. Remember, you have a whole team of student researchers, professors and food service staff to collaborate on this project. You can work with your team on creating Applied Student Research Projects to start filling knowledge gaps: You can also use the Supply Chain Assessment Toolkit to help determine what local and sustainable food your campus can purchase. Here is a guide to help your food service team integrate more local food into their operations and servings. McGill Food Systems Project – Farm to Plate This report is an overview of what they found out about how food services, and food purchasing specifically, work at McGill. This short case-study is a useful example of what students on that campus found out when they set out to do a purchasing baseline on their campus. You can also watch the neat Food is Important video. For example Students at UBC did a specific triple-bottom line analysis of Sugar and found that 10% of their sugar was coming from local sugar-beet sources. Moreover, they looked into how recipes could be made with ingredients such as local BC Apples in place of Sugar. Read more here.
  7. 7. Applied Student Research Toolkit 7 Take a Solutions Based Approach: When you see roadblocks ahead, take the time to think through possible solutions. Look through the Campus Food Systems Project’s resources and blogs to find inspiration from other campuses, and research what opportunities and solutions exist in your community to help you overcome any challenges Distributors Sure, big distributors like Sysco and Gordon Food Service bring food from very far away to your campus. But chances are pretty good that they’re also distributing some local products too. It’s also pretty likely that they are bringing additional local products, if they know it is a priority for your campus. Sitting down with them (and ideally, with your food service team to back you up) to show that your campus wants to change where food is coming from and how it is produced, can yield some impressive results. There are also smaller distributors who can help your campus achieve its local, sustainable and equitable purchasing goals. Instead of delving into the unknowns of a large supply chain, a distributor in southern Ontario prides itself on a different approach. “At 100km Foods Inc. we want you to know where your food comes from... We aim to foster and grow authentic and genuine relationships between our customers and our producers.” Ryerson University and the University of Toronto both work with 100km foods to purchase many of their local products including: fresh, harvested-to-order, in-season fruits and vegetables, farm-fresh dairy, free-run eggs, artisanally milled grains and flours, and pantry staples like Ontario maple syrup, honey and dried beans. This ensures that they are supporting local and sustainable foods, while still maintaining quality and satisfaction.
  8. 8. Applied Student Research Toolkit 8 Questions to Consider Here are some general questions to discuss with your food service provider and existing distributors. Campus Policies • Does your campus or Food Service Provider have policies or statements that support ecological and just practices and the local community? Are students in support of local and sustainable purchasing? If we don’t know, could we find out? Current Purchasing Questions • Does our campus already purchase from local suppliers? • Do we have a definition for local? • Where is our food coming from? Does our food purchaser or distributor have tracking mechanisms to show where our food is coming from and how it is produced? • Can we highlight the local products we already procure? Can we label ingredients in our cafeterias? • What distributors is our campus working with? Can our big distributors help us get local food? What about smaller distributors or farmer co-ops? Can we buy directly from local producers? Local Food Procurement • What specific certifications does our food service provider and/or distributor require from producers (e.g. food safety certifications)? Can we work with local producers to help them to understand and possibly obtain these certifications? • What are other campuses doing nearby? Is it possible to be purchasing more local, sustainable and just food? Cost Savings • If buying local and sustainable food costs more, can we shift food purchasing budgets and meal pricing to balance out these costs? Will students pay more? If not, could we try to find operational efficiencies in other areas of operations-- for example, waste reduction through trayless dining or other methods (see a great example from the University of Texas at Austin), energy efficiency through retrofits or behaviour-change programs? Could we put those savings towards higher ingredient costs? Upcoming Opportunities • Is there an upcoming Request for Proposal for Food Services or Distributors? How can we integrate an increase in local, sustainable, healthy and just food options? • Are there events in which we could integrate local food? • Are there upcoming meetings with distributors and suppliers to discuss these questions?
  9. 9. Applied Student Research Toolkit 9 Supporting Documents and Case Studies Here are a few more resources to inspire your team. These resources provide greater insight on purchasing baseline assessments and highlight examples from leading campuses. My Sustainable Canada’s: Conducting Food Origin Audits: a step-by-step guide The food origin audit guide was designed for healthcare facilities, but can be easily used in a Campus setting. This guide will help in examining procurement of local, organic, fair-trade and even non-food items and supplies. It will also help in determining points for intervention and opportunities to increase the procurement of local food. Middlebury College - Mapping Out the Food We Eat If you decide to go ahead and do a Purchasing Baseline, or any similar project that tracks where specific food at your campus comes from on a purchase by purchase basis, you’re going to end up with a lot of data that you worked really hard to gather. This is a great example of what you could do with that data: map it out using Google Maps! It’s also a good example of how you could do it— working with a class of geography, environmental studies, or even computer science students is a great way to save yourself time, get the skills needed, and get more people interested and invested in the results. Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project - 10 Easy Ways to Incorporate Local Into Your Cafeteria Public Good Initiative - “Report on Food Procurement” This report is the result of research that students at University of Toronto just did for the Campus Food Systems Project in winter 2012, on best practice models for local purchasing policies.

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