Food Service Management Companies in New England - Barriers and Opportunities for Local Food Procurement (DRAFT)

Food service management companies (FSMC) dictate the parameters of institutional food procurement for many hospitals, schools districts and colleges in New England and around the country.

As the farm to institution movement matures, advocates have realized that they must better understand these companies to have a significant impact on institutional procurement of regionally produced and processed foods. The Farm to Institution New England (FINE) Contracted Food service Action Project aimed to address the limited understanding of how FSMCs work by compiling regional and cross-sector information about the operational practices of the largest FSMCs in the region: Compass Group and Sodexo. For this project researchers conducted over 40 interviews with food systems advocates and FSMC staff.

This report is an outgrowth of that research. It provides an overview of the ways in which FSMCs operate, including a description of purchasing practices and the rebate system, how vendors become approved, and the importance of contracts. The focus of this report is on the role of FSMCs in enabling their institutional clients to purchase local products. It provides a synopsis of the main barriers and opportunities to local procurement and provides two examples of promising initiatives, both spearheaded by Sodexo.

 

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