Institutional food purchasing the target of upcoming forum

Reposted article by Stephanie Danahue of The Northern Light

It’s one thing to convince a friend or family member to purchase healthy food, but it’s another to make it a viable option for public institutions tasked with feeding the masses.

On Thursday, November 17, stakeholder groups focused on transforming the way public institutions purchase food, as well as interested members of the public, are invited to attend Whatcom Food Network’s fall forum. The session, which features a series of presentations and networking opportunities, lasts from 1 to 5 p.m. in the Garden Room at Whatcom County Public Works facility, located at 322 N. Commercial Street in Bellingham.

The Whatcom Food Network has hosted the forum twice a year since 2012 to provide a place for advocacy groups to network and stay up to date on the latest initiatives to improve the way food is purchased, consumed and disposed of. The forum acts as a valuable resource for the public to learn more on the topic and to connect with organizations promoting the cause.

This year, familiar faces from the Bellingham-based Opportunity Council, Community to Community, the Community Food Co-op and Sustainable Connections plan to attend, said Whatcom Food Network assistant Diana Meeks.

The Center for Good Food Purchasing associate director Colleen McKinney will lead a presentation about values-based food purchasing for public institutions. To guide them in this effort, the organization carries the five following core values: to improve local economies, maintain health, boost the local workforce, protect animal welfare and increase environmental sustainability.

The organization continues to lead the effort in health conscious and locally based food purchasing for public institutions such as schools, hospitals and government agencies. Staff with the organization credit their work with the Los Angeles School District as being one of their greatest successes. With their help, the school district now serves locally sourced and healthy meals.

Maintaining a sustainable and local food source “makes a really big impact on local and regional food systems,” Meeks said.

Guest speaker Mark Peterson from Bellingham-based Sustainable Connections will also make an appearance to discuss organic food waste in Whatcom County and the associated challenges.

Participants will have the chance to take part in an open discussion about local food systems and will have additional opportunities to network with the slew of interest groups already on the docket to attend.

The event is free and requires an RSVP.

To learn more call 360/647-7093 or visit their website at