Value-Added Local Food andFarm to Institution Sales in New England: The Just Soup Case Study

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2013: $14,745.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2015
Grant Recipient: University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Region: Northeast
State: Massachusetts
Graduate Student:
Faculty Advisor:
Daniel A. Lass
University of Massachusetts
Faculty Advisor:
Dr. Nathalie Lavoie
University of Massachusetts, Amherst
The popularity of Farm to Institution programs in New England has boomed in recent years – in 2015, 79% of New England public schools responding to the USDA’s Farm to School Census reported having Farm to School Programs, and 74% of reporting schools plan to buy more local food in the future1. Demand is growing, but it can be a challenge for institutions to source wholesale fresh products and serve product in an institutional cafeteria in a region where there is already high demand for direct marketed local food, where seasonality limits the availability of local product, and where institutional buyers do not always have the capacity to prepare raw product. While farmers, brokers, distributors, institutions, and program practitioners develop efficient supply chains to deliver fresh products to institutional consumers, a number of farms and non-profit organizations are trying to turn the seasonality question on its head; Instead of delivering fresh produce to institutional food service providers to cook into healthful dishes, why not deliver lightly processed, healthful dishes to institutions? Just Roots Community Farm is pursuing just that – transforming locally sourced produce into healthful soups, and selling those soups to schools, hospitals, and correctional facilities. This case study will investigate the convergence of stakeholders and resources that make the Just Soup project possible and identify the potential for the project to be financially viable, and discuss the applicability of the project in other community contexts. This case study was completed with generous assistance from Just Roots staff, including internal organizational documents.
Jill Ann Fitzsimmons
Target audiences:
Farmers/Ranchers; Educators
Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.