‘Farm to institution’ is the practice of purchasing locally grown foods for food service settings like schools, hospitals, colleges, and business campuses. This growing movement supports agricultural producers, increases meal quality and transparency, and provides opportunities for connection between rural and urban communities.
While institutions already purchase grain in many forms, they often lack the knowledge, relationships, skills, or culinary capacity to incorporate local grains. Identifying a need for network building and resource development to increase the use of grains, beans, and oilseeds in Midwest institutional culinary programs, the University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems (CIAS) and Artisan Grain Collaborative (AGC) established the Grains to Trays initiative. This initiative represents a long-term vision to simultaneously grow staple crop value chains and farm to institution efforts in the region, focusing on strategies to increase the use of regionally produced and processed grains in Upper Midwest institutions.
This webpage acts as a clearinghouse for research, farmer support resources, and practitioner tools developed as part of these efforts.
As a first step to understanding regional grain to institution efforts, a national inquiry was sent to relevant networks, government entities, universities, food service officials, farm to institution organizations, and advocates to compile a repository of published resources that highlight, explain, inform, or relate to existing and potential regional grains to institution sourcing efforts. The Grains to Trays team compiled and curated these resources, added descriptive text and graphics, and organized them according to audience and content. This compilation of resources aggregates relevant information to advance research and work in this area, avoid duplicative efforts, and maximize project impact.Literature Review
The Grains to Institution Environmental Scan is a summary of efforts to assess and understand the grains to institution landscape in the Upper Midwest identified by gathering stakeholder knowledge, needs, and barriers. The document features information collected from food service directors, grain farmers, processors, and aggregators and is intended for use by procurement specialists, technical assistance providers, researchers, and support organizations interested in better understanding the challenges and opportunities involved with serving regional grains in Upper Midwest institutions.Environmental Scan