Farmers beat Atkins in popularity contest

YORK, Pennsylvania, November 11, 2004: In a recent survey conducted among 400 students at Pennsylvania College of Technology, 70% of the respondents said they care about the source of their food and wish to support their local farming community. Contrast this to the less than 30% who said they were watching their carbohydrate intake.

After four years of serving milk from a local dairy, Penn College took a bold next-step and awarded a local cooperative the 2004-2005 beef contract. With no additional promotion, sales of hamburgers are already up 30%. Northern Tier Sustainable Meats Co-op representatives attribute the popularity of their burger to unbeatable taste.

Penn College may be a crowning example of how institutional purchasing power can be leveraged to support local farmers, but they are in no way alone. In fact, as part of a burgeoning movement call Farm-to-College, a number of colleges and universities across the nation are looking to local farms to supply fresh, locally-raised products for use in campus dining halls. Other schools purchasing from local farmers include Yale University, Evergreen College, and Bates College.

This winter, the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) is hosting regional Farm-to-College networking sessions for farmers and college dining services interested in starting local food projects in their region. Farmers and food service directors will share opportunities and obstacles to local purchasing, professional expectations, product availability, and pricing structure. Farmers are encouraged to bring product samples and pricing lists. If you are farmer, food service director or chef interested in attending one of the following meetings, please RSVP to Heather House at PASA, 814-349-9856.

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