Environmental Science and Policy
This study focused on the question: What are the barriers in bringing more local food to Smith College and in identifying the impediments, how can we overcome them and form a strong local food system? To understand the purchasing capacity and needs of the college the director of dining services was the first contact. Gathering information from this source helped us to establish the parameters to define outside sources to contact. Those contacts included producers, processing, and distribution. The inquiry of each contact was based on the initial question and brought attention to a layer of issues.
Currently, Smith College has strong relationships with local farms in providing produce, so the part of the study discussed in this paper focuses primarily on beef. The director of dining services was very receptive in supporting this project. A connection was made between the director and a distributor of local beef that show a promising relationship in the future. The local producers and the processor of beef were interested in the prospect of supplying their products to Smith College, but saw land, money, and infrastructure as the main issues.
The immediate result is awareness to the barriers hindering a strong local food system and identifying the players who are willing to overcome these obstacles. In the bigger picture the farmers need a local distributor to help connect them as vendors to institutions and the processors need change in legislation to have access to more capital from government funding to expand and grow.
©2011 Stacie Mansen
Mansen, Stacie, "Smith’s Journey into the Local Food System: Identifying the Bottlenecks" (2011). Class Project, Smith College, Northampton, MA.