Local Food Infrastructure
Because Kenyon’s program relies so heavily on family-scale and Amish producers, the college provides most of the transportation infrastructure. Our relationship with one of our meat processors has also allowed us to create a cooperative relationship for delivery and storage. In some cases, travel is reduced by the use of a local, small-scale distributor for foods that are produced farther away. Some of our foods also require processing before they are ready to be served in the dining hall. Processing ranges from preservation (e.g., by pickling) to the slaughtering and butchering of animals. We also do some processing in the dining hall itself. The more food we are able to preserve and store during productive months, the longer we are able to serve local food throughout the year. This may impose some financial burden up front, but then the product is in inventory and can be served later without additional cost.
We also work with “local industrial” sources: providers that operate on a regionally competitive scale and generally do not need our business, but which happen to be located within a certain radius of the college. These sources are necessary and convenient for some types of food that would be challenging or impossible to procure from smaller sources. These larger companies already have infrastructure in place for ordering, daily delivery, and invoicing; and they provide a valuable alternative to the more complex system of working with processors and producers individually. Another advantage is that a smaller distributor might be more flexible and open to working with the local food efforts of an institutional buyer. Working with a small-scale, family-owned distributor still supports the local economy, and some institutions might find that this is a less complicated way to become involved in the local food system. Over time, however, Kenyon has expanded its relationships with individual farmers because it allows us to work more directly within the local community.