Food produced locally, in good soils, and by people who care about the health of their communities has the potential to deliver healthy nutrition at a reasonable cost, support rural economic development, and steward vital natural resources.
Hospitals and school districts are major purchasers of healthy food and serve as anchor institutions in the community. Rooted in place, both have significant investments in social capital and are oriented toward community health goals. By leveraging their collective purchasing power a new cross-sector coalition, ProCureWorks Northwest, is strengthening and articulating the increased institutional demand for locally produced healthy food that supports a sustainable food system.
ProCureWorks Northwest is a joint initiative of Health Care Without Harm and Ecotrust that is adapted from the successful ProCureWorks California model to bring together hospitals and schools to facilitate large-scale purchasing change.
ProCureWorks Northwest officially launched on June 6 at the Oregon State University Food Innovation Center, which will serve as a partner on the project. The three-year-long project will help institutions meet their local and sustainable purchasing goals and create pathways for local farmers and producers to reach school and hospital markets. A community of practice made up of school and hospital buyers is forming and will focus on at least three products to set sustainability criteria for and purchase.
Committed institutions currently include Kaiser Permanente, Legacy Health, and Portland Public Schools. There is still time to join the ProCureWorks Northwest community of practice.