The Good Food Procurement Subcommittee advises the City of Philadelphia on how to spend its public dollars on ‘good food’ that improves outcomes for producers, consumers, and the environment. The subcommittee educates and guides key governmental purchasers to develop innovative procurement approaches and establish relationships with regional businesses to increase supply and purchasing of good food.
The Good Food Procurement Subcommittee began as a working group under the Anti-Hunger Subcommittee. In spring 2013, the working group participants agreed that there was enough interest to merit establishing a separate subcommittee. Read on or check out this summary to learn about all the accomplishments the subcommittee had over its 4 years of service. The subcommittee wrapped up its regular meetings in 2018, and will continue to meet on an ad-hoc basis as relevant issues and policies arise. The subcommittee anticipates holding meetings related to the 2019 release of Good Eats, an assessment of the Philadelphia food economy, which provides recommendations on policies and partnerships related to good food procurement.
Good Food Catering Guide
With a fuller understanding of the types of catering purchases City departments make, the subcommittee identified the need for a catering guide to help departments make ‘good’ food choices. Subcommittee members identified four criteria for ‘good’ food, including healthy menus, sustainably-sourced, fair labor practices, and locally-owned. The subcommittee released the Good Food Catering Survey in fall 2015 to identify catering businesses that are including healthy and sustainability in their menus and fairness and equity in their business practices. Subcommittee members thoroughly reviewed answers from each survey respondent and verified the information they provided to identify which businesses met the requirements. Here is the latest edition of the Philadelphia Good Food Caterer Guide.
City Department Catering Outreach
In fall 2014, the subcommittee conducted outreach to City departments regarding their small purchase orders. Through previous research, the subcommittee solidified an understanding of the type of food purchased in large orders by City departments for programs and populations, but lacked information on departments’ smaller catering orders. Over several months, the subcommittee called departments to understand the type of foods they purchased, what occasions they purchased for, and how much it cost generally. Analysis showed that many departments submit small-scale catering orders for meetings and parties. This project helped the subcommittee identify a potential project in developing a healthy and local food catering guide to distribute to City departments.
Healthy Food Vendor Forum
In July 2014, the subcommittee partnered with the Get Healthy Philly on the Healthy Food Vendor Forum to educate and inform vendors about the new citywide nutrition standards. The Forum featured representatives from the Procurement Department, Finance Department, and the Office of Economic Opportunity discussing information relating to contracting with the City. The Forum also offered an opportunity to solicit feedback from vendors about their interest in and barriers to sourcing locally.
Local Food Mapping
To help the subcommittee better understand what “local food” means in the Philadelphia context, the subcommittee conducted a mapping exercise to identify food products that are available locally. The subcommittee understands that some products are simply out of the 100-mile foodshed range that many organizations use to define “local.” The subcommittee helped develop the list of local foods that is now included in the Philadelphia Department of Public Health’s Comprehensive Food Standards and Implementation Guide (p. 13). The subcommittee also contributed to the sustainability recommendations in Philadelphia’s Comprehensive Nutrition Standards (p. 14) that encourages City agencies to purchase local foods whenever feasible.
The Good Food Procurement subcommittee meets every fourth Thursday from 3:30 PM to 5:00 PM. If you are interested in joining the subcommittee, please get in touch with Co-chair Molly Riordan.