LOS ANGELES–The nonprofit Center for Good Food Purchasing has launched its Good Food Impact Hub, a suite of online tools that assist large foodservice institutions like school districts calculate the health, environmental and economic value of adopting more sustainable procurement practices.
The Impact Hub offers users an easy-to-use interface to quantify and articulate the positive impacts of implementing smarter methods of providing food to their constituents — from buying more organic products to sourcing more food locally.
Users can package datasets through five value lenses: enhanced health and nutrition, reduced environmental impacts, more robust local economies, more valued workforces, and improved animal welfare. Users can customize the projected benefits and savings to their communities based on the size of their annual purchasing power. Typical users include anyone who is in a position to advocate and build public support for better food procurement policies and practices, from policymakers to community-based coalitions to food procurement decision-makers who oversee food supply chains for public schools, universities, hospitals, correctional facilities, and the like.
“Knowledge is power,” said Paula Daniels, co-founder and Chief of What’s Next at the Center for Good Food Purchasing. “Our new Impact Hub will provide key information to policymakers and food service directors who want to adopt a more values-driven procurement strategy, providing them with the hard data to prove that investing in these changes will yield enormous health, environmental and economic dividends in their communities.”
Information drawn from the Impact Hub buttressed a newly issued report by The Rockefeller Foundation in partnership with the Center for Good Food Purchasing. The “True Cost of Food: School Meals Case Study” details the health and poverty reduction benefits of the U.S. school meals programs adopting more sustainable food purchasing practices:
- Increasing procurement from local and regional producers and suppliers to 30% of all food purchases. This would support 19,552 local jobs, equivalent to annual local wages of $971 million. Employment in the localized food system can include jobs such as farm-to-school coordinators, culinary staff for scratch cooking, and local food hub operations.
- Reducing conventionally raised grain-fed beef by 30% (such as through a Meatless Mondays program). This would result in reduced CO2 equivalent emissions of 2.98 billion pounds (equivalent to taking 292,000 passenger vehicles off the road annually).
- Replacing conventional with certified USDA organic for the 20 most purchased produce items. This would decrease pesticide use by 567,000 pounds and lower pesticide use on 47,600 acres of farmland (equivalent to 36,100 football fields).
The Impact Hub allows users to make similar calculations in their region and provide a dollar-based analysis to administrators. The microsite has been designed to act as a town hall for change agents eager to move food systems from a profit-based model to a more community values-based model. Beyond the calculators, the Hub offers case studies, how-to recommendations, data-driven proofs of concept, and support resources from the Center.
Some 60 institutions of significant scale in 24 regions, including the Los Angeles, New York City, Chicago, Boston, Washington D.C., Austin, and Oakland school districts, have enrolled in the Good Food Purchasing Program. Together, those entities represent more than $1 billion in annual purchasing power and serve more than 3 million people each week. The Center works with food service directors and the communities they serve to establish supply chain transparency from farm to fork, assisting with metrics-based goal setting and progress measurement across the five value lenses.
Alexa Delwiche, co-founder, and Executive Director, noted that “The Impact Hub is rich with case studies of real-world impacts already in progress. New content includes details about local purchasing policies of eight cities, including Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York. The Center has calculated the impacts of purchasing shifts for those cities. By implementing Meatless Monday changes in all city agencies, New York City could reduce annual carbon dioxide equivalent emissions by 202 million pounds; equivalent to taking approximately 20,228 passenger vehicles off the road annually.”
The Rockefeller Foundation funded the development and launch of the Good Food Impact Hub as part of its ongoing work to create a more equitable and healthy public food system.
About the Impact Hub methodology
The Center developed the impact calculators by engaging with subject matter experts, conducting a comprehensive literature review, and creating a detailed analytic model. More information on methodology and sources can be found here.
About the Center for Good Food Purchasing
The Center for Good Food Purchasing was created in 2015 to guide the national expansion of the Good Food Purchasing Program, a rating program for large foodservice providers. It was first implemented in the City of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Unified School District beginning in 2012. The Center works with national partners, local food policy councils and grassroots coalitions, administrators, and elected officials in cities across the country to scale the Good Food Purchasing model.