New Study Says What’s Needed to Help Local Farmers, Improve Food Access, and Protect the Environment
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
For release: June 3, 2019
Contact: Melissa Vatterott, Food & Farm Director
(314) 727-0600, ext. 111
NEW STUDY SAYS WHAT’S NEEDED TO HELP LOCAL FARMERS, IMPROVE FOOD ACCESS, AND PROTECT THE ENVIRONMENT
St. Louis, MO: Missouri Coalition for the Environment (MCE), on behalf of the St. Louis Food Policy Coalition (STLFPC), released the results of an 18-month study on what is needed to build up the local food economy in the St. Louis Region. The “St. Louis Farm to Institution Feasibility Study” reports on the level of interest in, barriers to, and needs of farmers, chefs, institutions, and others to move more locally-grown, environmentally-responsible products throughout the 150 mile radius of St. Louis. The study was funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and is authored by MCE’s Local Food Coordinator Rae Miller and MCE’s Food and Farm Director Melissa Vatterott. Miller and Vatterott reveal nine needs to advance the local food economy in St. Louis, creating opportunities for new, small-scale, and mid-scale farmers to thrive. The top three needs are assistance with marketing, delivery and distribution, and processing.
“The Feasibility Study signals to the region that while large institutions have interest in sourcing more food locally, they are not in a position to buy more locally-grown food at this time,” says co-author Rae Miller. Miller describes “large institutions” as hospitals, universities, and corporate cafeterias. The limitations of many large institutions are their current contracts with food service providers and the amount of money they are willing to spend per unit of food. “Institutions are also not hearing from their customers that they value locally-sourced food,” says Miller.
“Fortunately, restaurants and small, independent grocery stores are excited about and able to buy more food from farmers in MCE’s network right now,” says co-author Melissa Vatterott. Farmers are looking for assistance with delivering their products to new buyers in St. Louis and Eat Here St. Louis, a local food aggregation business in town, is able to meet restaurants’ demand for delivery of more local product.
Consumers have expressed great interest in seeing more local product in restaurants, grocery stores, and other outlets and have also expressed that how those products are grown matters to them. “Many outlets sell locally-grown products and Eat Here St. Louis is committed to helping those outlets source more environmentally-responsible local products for their operations,” says Preston Walker, Owner of Eat Here St. Louis.
The study also revealed that farmers need assistance with informing buyers about their commitment to environmentally-responsible practices. As a result, MCE and STLFPC have launched Known & Grown STL, a new marketing program to help consumers and institutional buyers know which farmers in the region are committed to soil health and protecting water quality. Learn more at www.knownandgrownstl.org.
MCE and STLFPC work to promote a thriving, sustainable, equitable, local food system because how and where our food is grown impacts our environment and our health. MCE and partners are working to move the study’s nine identified needs forward. For more information on those needs and the full study visit www.moenvironment.org/farmtoinstitution.
Missouri Coalition for the Environment is a 50-year old statewide 501(c)3 environmental advocacy organization based in St. Louis, Missouri and convenes the St. Louis Food Policy Coalition.