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Silver lining for Mid-Sized Farmers: “AG in the Middle” Grows within Compass Group

Leading foodservice management company supports buying local through their network across the country

Submitted by: Compass Group North America

Categories: Sustainability, Corporate Social Responsibility

Posted: Jun 23, 2009 – 04:28 PM EST


CHARLOTTE, NC. - June 23, 2009 - As part of their commitment to sustainable agriculture and wellness, Compass Group North America is piloting several programs to support ‘buying locally’ (defined as food grown within a 150 mile radius) across the country with ‘AG in the Middle’ being the primary focus.

With Compass’ goal to develop partnerships with 2,013 American family farms by 2013, ‘AG in the Middle’ is a pilot project that brings the produce of mid-sized farms faster, and more efficiently, into Compass Group’s supply chain through their network of distributors across the country. Purchasing is done through the approved produce distributor to ensure food safety and traceability of local produce. In turn, the farmer benefits by having a reliable network of local accounts with sizeable purchasing power.

With over 8,000 accounts in the United States, Compass has been supporting ‘buy local’ initiatives for over ten years. Chefs and managers are encouraged to establish relationships with local farmers to buy local and promote seasonally available produce in their accounts. ‘Ag in the Middle’ provides a framework of support with regional distributors to facilitate the selling and purchasing of those products.

This program also encourages sustainable practices, and supports the continued viability of these mid-sized farmers, which is the fastest diminishing farm segment in America. Mid-sized farmers may become virtually extinct within the next ten years without additional outlets to sell their products. This program can help preserve the American family farm and give back to the local communities while reducing the carbon footprint of the supply chain. Local foods travel an average of 45 miles before arriving at the dinner table, compared to the average of 1,500 miles.
The 2009 pilot project uses three distributors: Foster Caviness in the Carolinas; Bix Produce in Minnesota; Hearn Kirkwood and Keany Produce in the Baltimore/Washington DC region.

Compass Group’s partner in the Ag in the Middle initiative is the Minneapolis-based Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), a non-profit organization that supports fair and sustainable food, farm and trade systems. IATP supports the project with overall project design, technical assistance, evaluation, and coordination of the Minnesota-based pilot. According to JoAnne Berkenkamp, Local Foods Program Director at IATP, “This initiative is a major step forward in strengthening the infrastructure for local food systems. Compass’ ‘Ag in the Middle’ initiative is a great demonstration of how a company that serves food in hospitals, schools, colleges and other locations across the country can provide reliable markets for farmers, raise the visibility of local, sustainable agriculture and build closer relationships between consumers and those who grow our food.”’

These pilot programs will culminate in a company-wide “It Takes You - Eat Local” promotion – a week long national campaign scheduled for all Compass accounts the week of September 21, 2009. By supporting local farmers and promoting local produce, Compass Group is also creating awareness of the many health benefits of eating healthy and buying local by partnering with The Produce for Better Health Foundation which sponsors Fruits & Veggies—More Matters™ initiative that encourages increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables for better health.

Marc Zammit, VP Corporate Sustainability Initiatives and Culinary summarizes the project, “Not only is Compass doing our part to preserve the legacy of the American family farm, but we are reducing our carbon footprint, preserving regional and local flavors, and stimulating the state economy by purchasing locally. It’s a win-win situation for all those involved and given our purchasing power, it’s significant.”

About Compass Group North America

Based in Charlotte NC, Compass Group North America is the leading foodservice and support services company with $9 billion in revenues in 2008. With 388,000 associates worldwide, its parent company, UK-based Compass Group PLC had revenues of ₤11 billion in the year to September 30, 2008. www.cgnad.com.

For more information, please contact:

Sarah Hada Compass Group North America
Phone: 704-328-1365

For more from this organization:

Compass Group North America


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