Increasingly, large institutions are setting food procurement standards that require local sourcing, and they’re vetting vendors and contractors based on their ability to comply.
Broadline distributors like U.S. Food, Gordon, and Sysco have been slow to address the emerging trend. But an Ann Arbor, Michigan-based software startup, Local Orbit, is in the process of bringing to market a new service that does what Big Food has struggled to accomplish. It provides streamlined access to local and sustainable food sourcing for high-volume purchasers like hospitals, schools, universities and prisons.
Erika Block, Local Orbit’s CEO, sees a crucial window of opportunity. Last year, for instance, local food co-op Maine Farm & Sea Cooperative lost out to food service contracting giant Sodexo in a multi-campus University of Maine contracting bid. Some viewed it as a blow to the local food movement, but to Block, it’s a sign of change.