Vermont Agriculture Secretary Hails Program’s Positive Impact on State’s Agricultural Economy
Submitted by: Sodexo
Posted: Dec 23, 2015 – 02:53 PM EST
GAITHERSBURG, Md., Dec. 23 /CSRwire/ - Just over a year ago, Sodexo, a leader in delivering sustainable, integrated facilities management and food service operations with a significant presence in Vermont, announced a major initiative to help grow Vermont’s local food economy by committing to buy local food first via a comprehensive program called “Vermont First”. Sodexo, whose clients include universities, hospitals, schools and nursing homes, serves about 35,000 meals per day in the state with $3 million spent on locally sourced products.
Under the “Vermont First” program, Sodexo works with farmers, distributors, processors, state government, non-profits and supply chain players within the farm to table economy to increase the amount of local food grown and sold in the state and beyond, contributing to growing Vermont’s economy.
Sodexo has already completed many of the commitments it pledged to at the launch announcement, including developing a plan to meet the production needs of Vermont farmers and creating a steering committee of Vermont stakeholders to discuss issues of procurement, marketing and meeting cutover demand.
Fulfilling another commitment, Sodexo hired Annie Rowell, who serves as a local food coordinator to broker relationships with growers wanting to meet the institutional market demand and tracking progress and growth in local food procurement. According to Rowell, “The approach to purchase local is less of a trend and more of a shift nationally, particularly for Sodexo which, as a service company, is very demand driven.” She cites that 42% of its clients now have local/sustainable purchasing targets. The company spent $200 million on local food nationally in 2014, supporting over 200,000 farms.
On December 2, Sodexo hosted the “Vermont First” Stakeholder Forum that focused on procurement and scaling up with presentations and panel discussions by industry leaders and professionals in the areas of produce, dairy, meat, and grocery. At the forum, Vermont Agriculture Secretary Chuck Ross shared that 4,100 new jobs were created about 655 new food related businesses were added to the Vermont food System from 2009 to 2014. With Sodexo’s strategy, he expects a boost to those numbers. “Sodexo saw an opportunity for them, not only to learn how to source locally and do it well, but also to commit to Vermont,” explained Ross. “This is a model that can be replicated throughout the country and I'm thrilled that Sodexo is leading the way,” added Ross.
Participating in the Forum were local food producers and distributors who currently supply Sodexo and many that would like to enter the company’s supply chain. Judy Adams, a commercial poultry vendor from Adams Family Farm believes the Sodexo team was open, easy to understand, and easy to approach with questions. “We now know that the Sodexo and supply chain representatives that attended the forum are the contacts we need to work with in order to see our products on the menu on campuses.” Sean Buchanan of Black River Produce expressed support for the “Vermont First” program, “Sodexo really puts their money where their mouth is. When Sodexo makes a commitment to doing something, they’re going to do it. Producers have seen success not only at the wholesale level, but have seen that translate to retail sales as well.”
About Sodexo in North America
Sodexo, Inc., the leading Quality-of-Life services provider in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, delivers On-site Services in Corporate, Education, Health Care, Government, and Remote Site segments, as well as Benefits and Rewards Services and Personal and Home Services. Sodexo, Inc. is headquartered in Gaithersburg, Md. and funds all administrative costs for the independent and charitable Sodexo Foundation – granting more than $25 million since 1999 to end childhood hunger in America. Visit the corporate blog at SodexoInsights.com. Visit Sodexo on Facebook and follow on Twitter @SodexoUSA.
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