There was excitement in the air as New England food producers began arriving at Sodexo’s Massachusetts Farm to Institution Scaling Up event on Nov. 9. For the producers in Health Care Without Harm’s Faces of New England program, it was an opportunity to utilize what they learned during a year and a half of business and marketing support, designed to prepare them to enter the health care market.
The Faces of New England program engages 19 farm and food businesses from all corners of the region – from northern Maine to Providence, R.I. The businesses offer fresh produce, tofu, vegetable oil, poultry, beef, beans, and many other products that health care kitchens use every day. The goal of the program is to assist local producers in scaling up and refining their practices so that they are in line with the needs of health care.
Sodexo, a food service management company that operates many hospital food service kitchens, held the meeting in an effort to secure more local foods for their Massachusetts and Rhode Island accounts. Sodexo has been running local food programs in Maine and Vermont and this meeting was a step to expanding that effort into southern New England.
The agenda for the day was designed to provide practical information on entering the Sodexo supply chain and to introduce producers to Sodexo’s procurement leads and the distributors Sodexo works with. Breakout sessions were divided into proteins, produce, and value-added products, and producers were able to ask specific questions of their would-be supply chain partners. The day concluded with a vendor fair where buyers could sample products from the local producers. Health Care Without Harm applauds Sodexo for taking this important step and is very happy with the opportunities presented to the Faces cohort.