Institutional Food Program

The Institutional Food Program is run in partnership with the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation's Sustainable Food System initiative. The program goal is to increase the supply of fresh, local and sustainable food in institutions across Canada, thereby prompting supply chain shifts towards more sustainable food production and systems.

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In addition to supporting a number of institutions and organizations to make these changes, the program works to engage both private sector actors and policy makers in sustainable procurement initiatives. Hospitals, long-term care facilities, universities and schools have a critical role to play in food system change, both because they are often publicly funded and and accountable, and because stakeholders such as students, patients, doctors and parents can influence the purchasing policies and practices of these institutions toward greater sustainability.

In recent years, certain hospitals, schools and cafeterias across Canada have shown that they can transform their practices to serve healthy, local and sustainable food. These changes have often been led by visionary champions, and in some cases have been aided by supportive public policies or programs. Yet the presence of isolated success stories has so far not proven sufficient to tip a critical mass of organizations towards sustainability. Specific supports, incentives and learning opportunities are needed to embed these changes within mainstream procurement practices, and the stories and mechanisms of success need to be widely communicated across the country.

The Institutional Food Program will pursue a variety of strategies including:

  • Providing grantees of the Institutional Food Fund with learning and technical supports;
  • Compiling key resources and best practices on institutional procurement change into an online toolkit for institutional purchasers;
  • Promoting the cross-cutting benefits of procurement of local and sustainable food by the broader public sector and private institutions, including linking these changes to supporting small and medium sized sustainable producers;
  • Exploring the potential for shared measurement of our collective impact.

Learning opportunities, resources and news related to procurement of local and sustainable food will be posted in this space.

Please contact Jennifer Reynolds, institutions[at] if you are interested in more information about the Institutional Food Program.


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