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Supply Chain Assessment Toolkit


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The goal of this toolkit is to help you figure out what local and sustainable food is available in your region, what of it your university could be buying, and what’s missing to make this happen.
By the end of using this toolkit, you’ll know a lot more about the agricultural industry of your area– not just how it’s working now, but how it got to where it is, who’s involved in shaping its future, and how your campus can help.

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Supply Chain Assessment Toolkit

  2. 2. Supply Chain Assessment 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 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 Sierra Youth Coalition 1 Nicholas, Suite 1510-1 K1N 7B7 Ottawa, ON (613) 241-1615 Meal Exchange 365-401 Richmond Street M5V 3A8 Toronto, ON (416) 657-4489 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//
  3. 3. Supply Chain Assessment Toolkit 3 Introduction and goals A supply chain, in food systems terms, is the processes of food from seed to compost. This includes where and how food is moving and the practices used in and on its journey. This toolkit will help you figure out how you can help your campus create a more connected, local and sustainable supply chain. This toolkit will help you find the local and sustainable food available in your region, and if/how your campus could be purchasing more of it! To map this out, you may want to talk to producers, producer unions, processors, distributors, and non-profit organizations in your community. After using this toolkit, you’ll know a lot more about the agricultural industry of your area– not just how it’s working now, but how it got to where it is, who’s involved in shaping its future, and how your campus can help. Good Practices and Lessons Learned from Other Campuses Before you embark on a Supply Chain Assessment journey, take a look at these examples below to see what other campuses across Canada are doing to purchase more local and sustainable food. These examples are meant to be a source of inspiration and potential models to help you demonstrate the role campuses have in building just and sustainable food systems. Seed to Plate Since 2009, students at McGill have been bringing together stakeholders on their campus to reimagine their food system through the McGill Feeding McGill program. By connecting their Executive Chef and the Macdonald Campus Farm’s Horticultural manager, there have been huge strides to connect their food from seed to plate. The link with its own farm has helped McGill purchase 41% of its produce locally, 30% beef and 100% eggs from their own farm. Waterloo’s St. Paul’s Greenhouse Garden is a student-led initiative for students to sow, grow, and harvest food that will be used in their dining halls on campus. Students built a relationship with Chartwell’s and their food and dining manager to support this initiative.
  4. 4. Supply Chain Assessment Toolkit 4 Ethical Sourcing • UBC has created a Sustainable Food Guide that helps foster a culture of sustainability in procurement and operations. This includes a list of products that can be procured locally and seasonally which was put together by a local non-profit organization. Here is a video from an inspiring UBC Chef! • Ryerson’s Executive Chef cares about good food and supporting good people. Not only does she use small scale distributors to support local farmers, but she also purchases directly from local bakers and cheese makers. • St. Francis Xavier has committed to serving Fair Trade coffee and tea through their work with Sodexo. • The Vancouver Island Community Research Alliance prepared a great report titled “Institutional Purchasing on Vancouver Island - Lessons learned from the University of Victoria.” See the case study on the University of Victoria (pages 13-20), and their approach to structuring working with distributors, for some ideas of the type of changes you could discuss with stakeholders at your campus. Some things to keep in mind Identify low-hanging “fruit” for local and sustainable purchases: It’s likely that there are is a lot of changes that could be made to improve your campuses purchasing practices. Hopefully the examples above gave you some inspiration. Determining a few changes that are relatively quick and easy to achieve is a good way to build some momentum. The more you prove that finding local and sustainable producers is doable, that their products maintain quality and competitive prices, and that students appreciate them, the more open everyone should be to continue making changes. Easy changes in purchasing could take many shapes: • Highlight local producers at a “Local Food Day” meal or celebration (see St. FX’s Spring Fling Local Menu) • Map out what is available seasonally and request that your campus purchases only local produce in season from your distributor • Request only local/organic grains, such as oats from your campus distributor • Work with local producers/processors who sell frozen fruits and vegetables, such as berries, peas and carrots • Switch to local maple or birch syrup, honey and sprouts! • Speak with your chef to determine more easy switches to support local and sustainable purchasing. This is a great opportunity for “good media” for your dining halls!
  5. 5. Supply Chain Assessment Toolkit 5 Work with existing distributors: Big distributors like Sysco and Gordon Food Service bring food from very far away to your campus. But chances are pretty good that they also carry 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. Moreover, its likely that your campus is purchasing from multiple distributors - one for meats, one for dairy, one for produce etc. Find out who these distributors are and how you can work with them. Distributors are really good at what they do, and like the food service provider, their priority is working with their clients. Sitting down with them (and ideally, with your purchaser along to back you up) to show that your campus wants to change where your food is coming from, can yield some impressive results. Many students have gone to visit their distributors’ warehouse with their food service provider to understand how they work and see what their interest and capacity for changing is. Work with local producers: As the McGill example demonstrates, producers can play a key role in supporting local, sustainable products in dining halls. Working with your food service team to find a keen producer who’s looking for an institutional market can be a great way to ensure that there will be local and sustainable products on your plates. This example of a hospital in Orillia, ON demonstrates how institutions can provide stable purchasing to help producers grow food with agro-ecological methods. Making changes in contracts and Requests for Proposals: Including a minimum requirement for or commitment to local, sustainable food in your Request for Proposals and Contracts is a great way to ensure that your campus Food Service Provider and Distributors do their best to source local and sustainable foods. If you are in the middle of a contract, it will be important to work with your food services team to identify how you can work better to achieve your common goals. Look into your Food Services and University’s mission and vision. How can procuring local and sustainable food achieve the mission of your campus? Visit for inspiration of what other campuses are doing and how your campus can join the local, sustainable and healthy food movement.
  6. 6. Supply Chain Assessment Toolkit 6 Questions to consider The Big Question: Where could our food be coming from, and can you make it happen? Local Production • Who’s producing food in your area? What type of operations are they: farms, ranches, fisheries, or a combination of the three? • What types of products are being produced? How does this fit with the specific crops and products that your university is looking to order? • On what scale are these products being produced? Are local producers able to provide as much as your university is looking to buy? Could they produce more, if they knew the university would buy it? • How are these products being produced? Is ecological consideration, humane treatment of animals and labour rights a strength of producers, or a major challenge? Is there an existing market for just and sustainably-produced food in your community, or could one be built, with the help of your university? Local Distribution • How are producers getting their food to market? Are they selling at farmers markets and CSAs, to local distributors, to national distributors, or for international distribution? Are producers interested in selling to your university?If they are, would they be interested in increasing sales to your university? Would an arrangement to deliver the products and manage payment be necessary? What would this arrangement need to look like to work for the producers and for your university? • Are there processors and distributors in your region that work with local producers? Are they established and successful, struggling to stay afloat, or just starting up? Are there plans to create new enterprises? How can your university use the strengths of the existing system, and help to support any new developments? • Who can help figure this all out, and who’s working on it already? Can you find champions in producer unions, a provincial or local department of agriculture, regional or local non- profits, community development organizations, or other universities and colleges, schools, and hospitals?
  7. 7. Supply Chain Assessment Toolkit 7 Suggested actions 1. Meet with your food service provider to discuss what they’re already doing, and to get them on board with your plans for the Supply Chain Assessment. Using some of the questions to consider above, determine which distributors or suppliers would be good to meet with to determine how they can help your campus get more local, sustainable products. 2. Start meeting with local institutions, restaurants and organizations in similar situations, to discuss best practices and shared opportunities. 3. Start meeting with local and regional groups who could support your work (non-profits, Community Futures, local business/co-op development groups etc.) 4. Share the story of this work. Post the changes in your dining hall with features of producers and processors. Find ways to share the story in the media as U of T and Ryerson have! How this ties into the bigger picture Food Service Overview and Purchasing Baseline: This Supply Chain Assessment toolkit is meant to be used after you’ve got a good understanding of how food services work on your campus and what you’re already purchasing, which we’ve created the Food Service Overview and Purchasing Baseline toolkits to help you do. If you’ve discussed the questions in both those toolkits with people from your current food service provider, you’ll have an idea of what the current food service provider has and hasn’t been able to do in terms of ordering local and sustainably produced food— now you’re ready to really start looking for new producers and distributors that could help improve things. After your campus has shifted procurement, it will be useful to track the changes and impacts on the local economy and environment. The Purchasing Baseline Assessment will be a useful tool to show where your campus is making changes. Applied Student Research: Figuring out what supply chain opportunities are out there, and which ones are worth following, can really take as long as you have the energy to go. If you and your stakeholders see an opportunity that you don’t have time to investigate, or if you’re just not sure where to start, getting a team of students working on it could be a great next step. For example, human nutrition students put together a wealth of resources and ideas to promote more local food in the menus on St. FX campus. Look at their research here. Similarly, UBC student researchers looked into how to relocalize their food system.
  8. 8. Supply Chain Assessment Toolkit 8 Conclusion This toolkit is a starting place to help you find the sources and make the connections to increase local, sustainable and just food procurement for your campus dining halls. This is truly about building relationships and asking those in your food system to figure out how they can contribute to more local and sustainable foods on campus. Local food is something to celebrate, so find ways to make this process fun for everyone as possible!