Dane County: Date set for 6th annual meeting to promote local foods
Contact: Casey Slaughter Becker, Office of the County Executive 608.267.8823 or cell, 608.843.8858
Registration Open for the Dane County Institutional Food Market Coalition’s ‘Step Forward to Local’
The date has been set for the Dane County Institutional Food Market Coalition’s (IFM) 6th annual meeting, a gathering that promotes the wholesale purchase of locally produced food and helps local farm families expand their operations, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi announced today.
This year’s meeting, "Step Forward to Local," will be held on May 23 at the Alliant Energy Center. Exhibitors must register by May 1, and other participants must register by May 14. (Information on how to participate can be found below.)
"Dane County continues to lead the way as a premier agriculture county and local foods hub,” said Parisi. “Our Institutional Food Market Coalition helps build the strong partnerships between buyers, distributors, and local food producers that bolster our local food economy and keeps families farming.”
The annual IFM meeting brings together Wisconsin universities, schools, hospitals, and other institutions that purchase large quantities of food to learn new strategies for buying local Wisconsin produce, meat, cheese and more. Buying local meat was the number one trend according to chefs surveyed in the National Restaurant Association's "What's Hot in 2012." Buying local produce took second place.
To generate and increase local food sales, the meeting will feature time to bring these institutional buyers together with exhibiting local food suppliers, in addition to presentations by distributors about the local Wisconsin food they carry.
Attendees will also hear from local food leaders. Monique Hooker, renowned chef and author, will give a presentation on her work with Wisconsin schools to help them purchase more local produce, and chop and freeze the produce for later use. Greg Christian, nationally-known chef and consultant with Beyond Green, will present on ways he has helped institutions find ways to save money in operating expenses in order to use those savings to purchase more high quality local food.
The Institutional Food Market Coalition is a Dane County UW-Extension economic development program that aims to create new opportunities for regional producers by developing the institutional market for local food.
Since 2006, IFM has generated over four million dollars in local food sales, and continues a long history of Dane County’s leadership in protecting agriculture and promoting agricultural enterprise.
In 2005, the Dane County Board voted to create a Dane County Food Council, dedicated in part to expanding availability of local foods in the county and identifying resources for local growers.
“Every year IFM’s annual meeting helps keep the momentum going in our local foods movement,” said Dane County Food Council Chair Supervisor Melissa Sargent. “The growth we’ve seen is inspiring, helping us keep dollars in our county, and helping our citizens make healthier choices for themselves and the environment.”
County Executive Parisi is also moving forward on plans for a regional food hub, partnering the county with the Wisconsin Farmers Union to develop a facility that would enable growers to aggregate and minimally process their produce for sale to interested large volume buyers such as grocery stores, hospitals, and schools in the Midwest.
For more information on this year’s meeting, or to register, call (608) 224-3710 or find the forms on the county IFM website, http://www.ifmwi.org.