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How the Center for Good Food Purchasing Partners with Large Institutions to Improve the Food System

Updated: Apr 4

Anchor institutions like schools and hospitals have the buying power to impact food systems and community well-being, simply through improving food procurement and purchasing practices. An increased capacity for tracking and analyzing food purchasing data can help such organizations and institutions assess how changes in food purchasing can impact health and overall well-being.

Over the past two years, IP3 has had the honor of working with the Center for Good Food Purchasing as they scale their program and impact, including the development of a tailored version of IP3 | Assess and a corresponding overarching data strategy to support their specific, internal processes. Just this month, we launched the web-based application to help institutions search and identify food products meeting the values of the Good Food Purchasing Program. This tool will allow institutions to evaluate and make better purchasing decisions over time.

About the Center for Good Food Purchasing

Born out of the Los Angeles Food Policy Council, the Center for Good Food Purchasing Program uses the buying power of anchor institutions to create a more transparent and equitable food system. The Center has created a network of anchor institutions across the nation, and works with them to assess current food purchasing practices and identify opportunities to improve across five core value categories: local economies, environmental sustainability, valued workforce, animal welfare, and nutrition.

Our Collaboration

The Center approached IP3 with an interest in leveraging our IP3 | Assess platform to scale their program. Specifically, as participation in the Good Food Purchasing Program grew to include institutions around the nation, their traditional hands-on method of analysis and data strategy needed to evolve to keep up with their growing network and increased amount of data to consistently track. IP3 collaborated with our partner Seaborne and the Center to deliver an internal tool and complementary data strategy to implement across their network.

Together, we built a tool that supports expert input, and automates and scales where appropriate. Importantly, the tool automates parts, but not all, of the Center's data analysis process. We recognize there are parts of the assessment process that should not be automated - where the years of expertise and nuanced insight from Center staff is needed.

Throughout our work with the Center and their network, including a design process with stakeholders, another opportunity for collaboration emerged: participating institutions wanted to make better purchasing decisions, but they didn’t know where to start. With generous funding from the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, we collaborate to develop the Purchase Browser - a tool allowing Good Food Purchasing Program participants to browse (anonymized) purchasing records of high-scoring products to derive inspiration on how to improve their own scores and food-system impact. This tool enables the Center’s network of anchor institutions to take control of product information and sheds light on a notoriously opaque industry. As more institutions join the program, the data strategy and data itself will become more useful and have greater impact.

What's Next?

In 2019, the Center was awarded a major grant to continue this work building capacity for better food purchasing data collection and analysis. In the next phase, we will analyze the broader impact of purchasing decisions and build an interactive online tool to increase public engagement in data and the impact good food purchasing has on community health and well-being. We will also use these data to develop policy recommendations to support decision-makers in creating good food purchasing policies. IP3 will conduct design sessions with stakeholders, perform a literature review and landscape assessment, provide data analysis and software development, as well as training, support, and translation for end-users. Our IP3 team is grateful to amplify the work of change-makers like the Center for Good Food Purchasing and the smart, hard working people on their team who are enthusiastically committed to creating real and sustainable change.

Learn More

Learn how you can bring the Good Food Purchasing Program to your community here. Are you a value-based organization working to create positive change in communities? Reach out and learn how IP3 can help scale your impact.

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