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Business and Policy Areas
Business and Policy Areas
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Accelerate the Pace of Change Towards a More Sustainable Food System

December 13, 2007

Have purchasing sustainably produced food and supporting the local food economy become priorities for your institution? If so, you’ll find practical recommendations in, A Guide to Developing a Sustainable Food Purchasing Policy. Recently released by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) and partners of the Sustainable Food Policy Project, the guide assists in the creation, promotion, and implementation of sustainable food purchasing policies.

Adopting institutional food purchasing policies enables governments to take a proactive approach to creating market opportunities for more sustainable food products and emerging businesses. In addition, these policies:

  • Establish links among local food producers, suppliers, processors, and distributors.
  • Facilitate dialogue among group purchasing organizations, suppliers, employees, students/patients, and the public.
  • Build awareness among and gain the support of decision makers, purchasing staff, and budget holders.
  • Clarify goals, expectations, and limits of the initiatives.

The guide outlines these10 steps for developing a sustainable purchasing policy.

  1. Set the Stage for Success--Demonstrate ownership and commitment.
  2. Identify the Parties and Nature of the Effort--Describe the group’s charter and any limits to its decision-making authority.
  3. Establish a Vision--Identify "big picture" and priority concerns.
  4. Anticipate Challenges; Identify and Prioritize Opportunities--Identify easy "wins"; existing strengths, skills, and capacity; and available resources.
  5. Identify Strategies, Standards, and Compliance Mechanisms--Develop guidelines and specifications to provide to purchasers.
  6. Establish a Baseline--Enable the institution to develop realistic and challenging goals.
  7. Set Goals--Use percentage of dollars rather than weight or other measures.
  8. Create an Action Plan--Set clear expectations for the institution and service providers/vendors.
  9. Create an Evaluation Plan--Look back and move forward.
  10. Communicate the Effort and Accomplishments--Share your stories!

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