- Education and Training: extension, mentoring, networking
- Farm Business Management: farm-to-institution
- Sustainable Communities: leadership development, local and regional food systems
North Carolina Cooperative Extension (NCCE) field agents foster connections between small and mid-sized producers and end markets to positively impact farmer profitability and community well-being. NCCE has made a historic shift toward building local food systems, designating Local Food Coordinators (LFCs) in each of the state’s 100 counties in 2010, and inaugurating Local Foods as a Flagship Program in 2012. A local foods commitment from the UNC University System, an institution serving over 200,000 students, has potential to positively impact NC farmers. The objective of this project is to build Extension educators’ capacity to lead effective teams to increase university procurement of local foods. The NC 10% Campaign, a local food marketing project of NCCE and the Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS), is the project lead. Extension Agents will facilitate six university teams comprised of farmers, a student Local Food Ambassador (LFA), a university Sustainability Office/faculty mentor, and dining service representatives. Agents will be trained to work with University Dining Services on supply-side barriers, while LFAs will work with students to build awareness and demand for local foods. The overarching project goal is to provide support for field agents building sustainable local food systems. Agents will gain expertise in collaborative approaches and be able to train other leaders across the state. Success will be measured by the increase in locally-procured food at partner universities; creation of curricula for Extension-led teams at other universities; and change in agent knowledge to build local food systems with universities and students.
Project objectives from proposal:
The following behavior-based objectives support the project goal of equipping Extension educators with the knowledge and programming materials to effectively train others in the creation of effective working teams that simultaneously build student demand for local foods and university dining services ability to procure local foods.
Project success within the project time period is defined as 1) an increase in knowledge and aspirations among those attending the training workshops (agents, student Local Food Ambassadors, university dining service representatives, and the food service companies contracted by dining halls) and 2) the successful development and dissemination of training materials. Success will also be measured by the increase in local food procurement by partner dining halls.
The project’s training objectives are to increase the capacity of Extension educators to engage and educate university community members in the development of local food systems. At the completion of the project, the following objectives will be successfully achieved:
Objective 1: Extension educators, Local Food Ambassadors, and University Dinning Service representatives are equipped to identify the structure and components of the university community dining system and can explain the benefits and challenges of university procurement of local food to a variety of audiences.
Evaluation of outcomes: Pre-post training workshop surveys of skills, knowledge, and aspirations related to the structure, opportunities, and challenges of building supply chains between local producers and university dining services. Workshops evaluated include those designed for Extension educators, Local Food Ambassadors, and dining service representatives. Evidence of sharing this knowledge with project partners and their Extension colleagues will be included in the agents’ Extension Reporting System and Accomplishment Reports.
Output: Training materials detailing the structure and components of the local food supply chain into universities and its benefits and challenges will be made available on the NCCE Local Food Web Portal (http://localfood.ces.ncsu.edu/); in the eXtension Community of Practice on Community, Local and Regional Food Systems, as a resource on the National Association of College and University Food Services website; and via other methods.
Objective 2: Extension educators are equipped with the knowledge and training materials to lead a collaborative and participatory process of building local food supply chains to university dining. Extension participates in an effective university dining –student — producer partnership.
Evaluation of outcomes: Pre-post training workshop surveys of participating agent knowledge, skills and aspirations related to building collaborative teams to generate university procurement of local food. Evidence of collaboration will be detailed in the agents Extension Reporting System and Accomplishment Reports.
Output: Training materials on how to create and implement effective work teams consisting of agents, producers, students, and dining and food service representatives made available on the NC CES Local Food Web Portal (http://localfood.ces.ncsu.edu/) and elsewhere.
Objective 3: Increase the amount of local food procured by university dining partners.
Evaluation of outcomes: Comparison of local food procurement at project initiation and completion.
Output: Information on change in procurement and explanations for this change detailed in the project final report.