Supporting Community with Retail and Institutional Food Service; Keeping it Safe, Legal and Local

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2002: $42,206.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2003
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $2,688.00
Region: North Central
State: Minnesota
Project Coordinator:
Audrey Arner
Land Stewardship Project


  • Animals: poultry
  • Animal Products: eggs, meat


  • Education and Training: extension
  • Sustainable Communities: partnerships

    Proposal abstract:

    A current survey done as part of the Pride of the Prairie Regional Food Systems initiative in western Minnesota indicates that a high percentage of institutional and retail foodservice providers in the region are interested in purchasing and serving locally produced foods. One of the major barriers identified was a belief that it is illegal to purchase locally produced foods directly from a farmer. It has also been recognized that there is also a lack of clear understanding and communication on the food safety and legal requirements for producing, selling, and serving locally produced foods by food safety educators, regulators, farmers, and the general public. In the food manager course Serv Safe, which is taught statewide it is recommended that foods only be purchased from an “approved” source. This has often been interpreted to mean that food can only be purchased safely and legally from large institutional foodservice distributors. The objective of this grant is to work with regional and state agencies, Extension, and community members to raise awareness of what a regional food system is, why local foods are important to community sustainability, barriers for using local foods, safety and regulatory information and consumer and institutional attitudes about locally produced foods. We would like to shift agricultural educators and food safety regulators attitude about the validity of offering locally produced foods as a safe and viable option for foodservice operations. In the short-term work will be done to clarify food safety and regulatory issues and present a workshop to agriculture educators, food safety regulators, farmers and the community providing guidelines for safe and legal use of local foods. Curriculum will also be developed for the Serv Safe program and for an institutional food management course on safe and legal ways to purchase local foods. Local food service institutions will be provided with guidelines for using local foods. In the intermediate and long-term educators will apply the developed guidelines in the Serv Safe classes they teach and become resources locally, within the state, and nationally to facilitate local food system use. Information will be disseminated on multiple websites. Efforts will be evaluated through number of people involved in educational activities and pre and post assessment, farmer input to materials development, documentation of collaborative partners, website development and spread of information to other regions.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Short-Term Outcomes:
    Twenty extension educators and thirty other people will gain awareness of what a regional food system is, why local foods are important to community sustainability, barriers for using local foods, safety and regulatory information, and consumer and institutional attitudes about locally produced foods. After the workshop based on knowledge received they will be motivated to share in local programs. Extension educators will have the skills to secure resources on safe and legal use of local foods in institutional foodservice.

    Intermediate Outcomes:
    Educators will apply developed guidelines in Serv Safe curriculum and become resources for curriculum and educational programs about food systems. EE can be train-the-trainers for EE in other Regional Sustainable Development Partnership regions of the state to support regional food system projects.

    Long-Term Outcomes:
    Extension educators are facilitating local food use within MN. Serv Safe and institutional foodservice curriculum will address safe and legal ways to purchase and use local foods. Agencies are collaborating to support regional food systems.

    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.