Good Food Purchasing Program (GFFP)
Adopted first by the City of Los Angeles in 2012, the Good Food Purchasing Program ® creates a transparent supply chain and helps institutions to measure and then make shifts in their food purchases. It is the first procurement model to support five food system values – local economies, environmental sustainability, valued workforce, animal welfare and nutrition – in equal measure and thereby encourages myriad organizations to come together to engage for shared goals. Within just six years, the Good Food Purchasing Program has achieved an impressive impact and set off a nationwide movement to establish similar policies in localities small and large across the United States. Due to its impressive achievements and fast roll-out thoughout the country, its respect for the Future-Just Lawmaking Principles and Elements of Agroecology, the Good Food Purchasing Program was recognized with an Honourable Mention of the 2018 Future Policy Award, awarded by the World Future Council in partnership with FAO and IFOAM – Organics International.
© Minneapolis Public Schools Culinary & Wellness Services 2018
- The Good Food Purchasing Program, which was first adopted Los Angeles city in 2012, is a procurement standard that offers institutions a system in which current investments towards food are redirected towards more sustainable and fair suppliers.
- Using a metric-based, flexible framework that produces a star rating, the Good Food Purchasing Program promotes the purchase of more sustainably produced food, from local economies, especially smaller and mid-sized farms and other food processing operations, which results in production returns at a more regional and local level, and ensures that suppliers’ workers are offered safe and healthy working conditions and fair compensation, that livestock receives healthy and humane care, and that consumers – foremost school children, patients, the elderly – enjoy better health and well-being thanks to higher quality nutritious meals.
- Within just six years, the Good Food Purchasing Program has achieved remarkable impact.
- The Good Food Purchasing Program has set off a nationwide movement to establish similar policies in localities small and large, and inspired the creation of the Center for Good Food Purchasing.
Center for Good Food Purchasing, Good Food Purchasing Programme, Purchasing Standards for Food Service Institutions, September 2017.
Among them are the U.S. Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010, Core standards of the International Labour Organization, and the City of L.A.’s Sweatfree Purchasing Ordinance.
Once adopted, the Program achieves notable impact within very short time. Since 2012, it has been mandatory for city departments of Los Angeles and for the L.A. Unified School District
(LAUSD), which together serve about 750,000 meals a day and have an annual budget of USD 185 million for food. As a result of Program adoption, LAUSD has reduced its purchases of all industrially produced meat by 32 percent, reducing its carbon and water footprint by 20 per cent and 20.5 percent per meal respectively (in 2017 compared to 2012 baseline), and redirected USD 15 million toward local food production. Its impacts reach even beyond Los Angeles city as LAUSD began sourcing locally grown wheat for its USD 45-55 million annual servings of rolls. Now Gold Star Foods distributes those rolls made of wheat grown from 44 Food Alliance-certified farms and milled in California to LAUSD and to over 550 other schools across the Western United States. For its noteworthy accomplishments, the Good Food Purchasing Program was recognized with an Honourable Mention of the Future Policy Award 2018.
The implementation of the Good Food Purchasing Program is particularly effective as it is the first procurement policy to support in equal measure five food system values (local economies, environmental sustainability, valued workforce, animal welfare and nutrition). Using a metric-based, flexible framework that produces a star rating, the Program offers institutions a straight-forward, systematic and effective approach to redirect food budgets towards suppliers that operate more sustainably and fairly.
GFFP has set off a nationwide movement to adopt its program in localities small and large, and by now 27 public institutions in 14 U.S. cities are enrolled, which collectively spend nearly USD 895 million on food each year.
Our “Best Policies” are those which meet the Future-Just Lawmaking Principles and recognise the interconnected challenges we face today. The goal of principled policy work is to ensure that important universal standards of sustainability and equity, human rights and freedoms, and respect for the environment are taken into account. It also helps to increase policy coherence between different sectors.
- Verifies commitment towards five categories of sustainability, including environmental.
- Supports certifications such as United States Departement of Agriculture (USDA) Organic.
- Reduces use of antibiotics and pesticides.
- Promotes a smaller ecological food footprint, e.g. local, seasonal, less meat, etc.
- Promotes respect for farmers, ranchers, fisher folks, etc.
- Before the Good Food Purchasing Policy every institution was purchasing from 10-12 suppliers with serious labour violations – the policy changed this.
- Enhances livelihoods of food chain workers: women, migrants, indigenous, youth.
- Promotes locally owned, small- to mid-sized farms, within 250 miles.
- Demands healthier food (a plant-based diet with some meat) and prevents diseases.
- Creates a demand for healthier food throughout life by school children.
- Enhances relationships with local ecosystems; educates and raises awareness.
- Is a major outcome of a group led by the Los Angeles Food Policy Council, engaging 100+ stakeholders.
- Transparent food supply chain and public accountability is its overall goal.
- The Center for Good Food Purchasing is providing information accessible to everyone and prepares public reports.
- Stringent budget management, elaborate evaluation and transparent governance.
- The Center supports implementation (technical support) and monitoring (evaluation) of the Programme.
- Creates opportunities for mid-sized local ownership to access the supply chain.
- Promotes integration of social justice and environmental protection into all sectors of public policy, e.g. urban farmers now receive tax benefits.
- Shows how to enact real change at local level by redirectin existing budgets.
- Levels the playing field: Taxpayers’ money is now used to support fair working conditions.
- Is adapted and uses the language of economy which is predominant in the United States.
California is the world’s fifth largest supplier of food, cotton fibre, and other agricultural commodities, and the largest producer of food (by dollar volume) in the United States. The Greater Los Angeles Area is the nation’s second-most populous urban region, with 18.7 million residents.
In September 2009, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced the creation of the Los Angeles Food Policy Task Force. The Task Force convened in November 2009 and was charged with developing a Good Food policy agenda for Los Angeles – food that is healthy, affordable, fair and sustainable. Task Force members met with over 200 people and conducted roundtable
discussions and listening sessions. In July 2010, the Task Force released a report called the Good Food for All Agenda. The Los Angeles Food Policy Council (LAFPC) was created in
response to one of the recommendations of the report.
In 2011, the LAFPC Working Group ‘Build a Market for Good Food’ developed the Good Food Purchasing Guidelines for Food Service Institutions, in collaboration with local and national experts in relevant fields. In 2012, Mayor Villaraigosa, thanks to Paula Daniels, his then senior advisor on food policy and founder and chair of the LAFPC, issued an executive directive impacting all city departments that purchased over $10,000 of food. A motion in support of the directive was also adopted by the Los Angeles City Council on the same day. Consequently, on Food Day, October 24, 2012, the City of Los Angeles became the first institution in the country to adopt the Good Food Purchasing Program. Just weeks later, the Los Angeles Unified School District – which serves 650,000 meals each day and is the largest food service provider in Los Angeles – became the second institution to sign on, committing to implementing the Good Food Purchasing Program.
By that time, the policy had been vetted by more than one hundred local, state, and national public, private, and non-profit organizations. The LAFPC built out the Program in detail, including the aspects of data collection and implementation. It provided programmatic support in areas such as record-keeping, menu design, bidding processes, and assessing suppliers’ adherence to the five values. The Program generated so much interest, that in 2015, the Center for Good Food Purchasing was established, to oversee the expansion of the Good Food Purchasing Program to public institutions throughout California and beyond. The Center now works with national partners, local food policy councils, regional grassroots coalitions, administrators, and elected officials across the country to transfer, scale, and network the Good Food Purchasing Program. To date, several other cities and school districts have adopted the Good Food Purchasing Policy and campaigns are underway in many more.
To harness the purchasing power of major institutions to encourage greater production of sustainably produced food, healthy eating, respect for workers’ rights, humane treatment of animals and support for the local small business economy. To shift as many dollars as possible towards Good Food in order to achieve an economy of scale. Beneficiaries are vulnerable groups such as school children, patients, the elderly, inmates, etc., as well as local small and mid-sized farms and food processing operations and their workers.
In each region, a local organization works in partnership with the Center for Good Food Purchasing, to advance Program adoption, implementation, and accountability. In Los Angeles, the LA Food Policy Council fulfils that role, while there are different organizations doing so in different regions. The Program is implemented by food service directors of public institutions, such as school districts, city departments, etc. In Los Angeles, it is in all city departments that purchase over USD 10,000 of food and the Los Angeles Unified School District.
The Good Food Purchasing Program’s metric-based, flexible framework encourages large public institutions to measure and then make shifts in their food purchases. It is a procurement model that supports five core food system values – local economies, environmental sustainability, valued workforce, animal welfare and nutrition – in equal measure. By adopting the framework, food service institutions commit to improving their regional food system by implementing meaningful purchasing standards in all five value categories:
- Local Economics: the Good Food Purchasing Program supports local small and mid-sized agricultural and food processing operations. The definition is based on a combination of farm size (by dollar volume) and farm distance from purchasing institution (based on driving distance). Farm sizes refer to USDA definitions.
- Environmental Sustainability: the Good Food Purchasing Progam requires institutions to source at least 15% of the food from producers that employ sustainable production systems that reduce or eliminate synthetic pesticides and fertilizers; avoid the use of hormones, routine antibiotics and genetic engineering; conserve soil and water; protect and enhance wildlife habitats and biodiversity; and reduce on-farm energy and water consumption, food waste and greenhouse gas emissions; as well as to increase menu options that have lower carbon and water footprints. Examples of certifications include: Demeter, USDA Organic, etc.
- Valued Workforce: the Good Food Purchasing Policy promotes safe and healthy working conditions and fair compensation for all food chain workers and producers. The baseline is compliance with basic labour laws by the institution, vendor(s) and all suppliers. Examples of certifications: Fair Trade Certified, Fair for Life, etc.
- Animal Welfare: the Good Food Purchasing Policy promotes healthy and humane care for farm animals. Examples of certifications in the Good Food Purchasing Standards include: USDA Organic, Certified Humane, etc.
- Nutrition: Finally, the Good Food Purchasing Policy promotes health and well-being by outlining best practices that offer generous portions of vegetables, fruit, whole grains and minimally processed foods, while reducing salt, added sugars, saturated fats, and red meat consumption, and eliminating artificial additives. A 25-item checklist was developed with the L.A. County Department of Public Health, and is aligned with national standards.
The Good Food Purchasing Program is nationally regarded as the most comprehensive and metric-based food procurement policy in the country. Verification, scoring and recognition
are central components. When an institution enrolls in the Good Food Purchasing Program, staff of the Center for Good Food Purchasing work with them to collect in depth information about purchasing and food service practices. To become a Good Food Provider, the food service institution has to at least meet the baseline (equal to one point) in each of the five values. Meeting even higher standards results in more points being awarded. The accumulation of points across all values is used to calculate and award a star rating. The baseline and higher standard purchasing criteria are set out in the Good Food Purchasing Standards, which are updated every five years, most recently in September 2017. There are five status levels of a Good Food Purchaser (1-5 Stars) that correspond to a respective range of points. In order to achieve a 5 Star level, the institution must achieve 25 or more points. As of June 2018, five out of 27 institutions have achieved a star rating, amongst them Boulder Valley School District that achieved 5 Stars in 2017 and Oakland Unified School District that achieved 4 Stars in 2016. After one year, purchasers are expected to increase the amount of Good Food that they purchase.
In Los Angeles, the LAFPC is the local lead partner, serving as a technical assistance provider to enrolled city departments and the LAUSD. The LAFPC convenes local cross-sector stakeholders, builds broad support for the Good Food Purchasing Program, identifies new institutions to recruit into the initiative, leads local efforts with partners, ensures a rigorous implementation of the GFPP by participating institutions, and maintains local relationships with public officials. The annual food purchasing budgets for L.A. institutions enrolled is USD 185 million.
Since 2012, the Good Food Purchasing Program has made a difference in all Los Angeles City Departments and LAUSD that serve together approximately 750,000 meals a day. The extent of its influence on food supply chains can be best examined by focusing on the most prominent example, the LAUSD serving over 600,000 students. The Good Food Purchasing Program increased considerably LAUSD’s purchase of sustainable local products. In the first year of enrolment the LAUSD went from less than 10% local sourcing of produce, to an average of 60% local produce, redirecting USD 12 million to support more sustainable production and avoiding long transport routes. As a result, 150 new well-paid food chain jobs were created in L.A. County, including food processing, manufacturing and distribution. In another example, LAUSD’s bread distributor had been sourcing out-of-state wheat for its USD 45-55 million annual servings of rolls, but today, most of the L.A. school district’s rolls are made from wheat grown on 44 Food Alliance-certified farms in California, milled in downtown L.A., and prices have stayed the same over the last three years. These impacts extend beyond LAUSD as Gold Star Foods now distributes these same products to over 550 schools across the western United States. Additionally, because of its engagement in Good Food principles due to GFPP, the LAUSD School Board adopted a resolution calling on a major Californian grower to honour its union contract with the United Farm Workers, which represents 5,000 farm workers. There has been a 15 per cent decrease in spending on meat by LAUSD due to implementing Meatless Mondays (a recommendation in the Good Food Purchasing Program), which each week saves about 19.6 million gallons of water. Additionally, a USD 20 million five-year contract was awarded for chicken produced free from routinely administered antibiotics, whereas previously the contract always went to the lowest bidder of conventionally produced poultry. From 2011 to 2017, LAUSD reduced purchases of all industrially-produced meat (beef, poultry and pork) by 32 per cent, which according to the Center for Good Food Purchasing’s estimate led to reductions in their carbon and water footprint by 20 per cent and 20.5 percent per meal, respectively, since the baseline year of 2012. The reduced carbon footprint translates to about 9 million kg of CO 2 emissions avoided per year – the equivalent to taking 1,930 cars off the road, and the water saved results in a total annual water savings of more than 1 billion gallons, enough water to fill 1,760 Olympic-sized swimming pools every year.
Besides achieving considerable improvements in all five value categories, additional impressive impacts are achieved in terms of environmental sustainability. Within about four years, the percentage change in environmentally sustainable purchases of four institutions that have participated in multiple Good Food Purchasing Program assessments is 3.3 per cent, i.e. they now allocate an additional USD 4.3 million annually to environmentally sustainable producers. By 2020, the Center aims for all public institutions currently enrolled to source at least 5 per cent of total dollars spent annually on food from Level 3 Environmentally Sustainable Producers (mainly USDA Organic certified), which would be a total of USD 44,727,806. Moreover, the percentage change in purchases from smallholder producers for the same four institutions is now 3.2 per cent, i.e. they now purchase an additional USD 4.4 million annually from smallholders (in just four years, starting from a baseline of 0.1 per cent).
L.A. City Departments and LAUSD set an example that has since influenced many other areas in the United States. The Program has set off a nationwide movement to adopt the Program standards in localities small and large, and inspired the creation of the Center for Good Food Purchasing, a NGO which now owns and manages the programme, as well as its expansion across the United States. By now 27 public institutions in 14 U.S. cities are enrolled, which collectively spend nearly USD 895 million on food each year. The Good Food Purchasing Program has encouraged elected and governmental officials to re-examine how they can use public budgets to better serve their community. That fundamental shift in thinking will produce important positive results for years to come.
The notable success of the Good Food Purchasing Program in 2012 led to a substantial number of requests for technical assistance from other cities and food policy councils looking to implement similar strategies. This led to the development of the Center for Good Food Purchasing in 2015, which now operates the national expansion. As of 2018, several other cities (San Francisco, CA; Oakland, CA; Chicago, IL; Cook County, IL) have adopted the Good Food Purchasing Program and campaigns are underway in many additional cities (Austin, TX; Chicago, IL; Cincinnati, OH; Madison, WI; Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN; New York; Washington, D.C.; and Baltimore) to push for its adoption. The Program is adaptable to specific contexts and such adaptations have been used to further advance agroecology, e.g. in Cook County. According to the Center’s staff, the Good Food Purchasing Program could be applied anywhere, including in low-income countries.
Center for Good Food Purchasing, Good Food Purchasing Programme, Purchasing Standards for Food Service Insitutions, September 2017
Anna Lappé, School lunch menu is about more than taste, price, in: San Francisco Chronicle, 15.5.2016
Sarah Reinhardt & Kranti Mulik, Union of Concerned Scientists, Purchasing Power. How Institutional “Good Food” Procurement Policies Can Shape a Food System That’s Better for People and Our Planet, 2017
Delwiche, A. & Lo, Joann, Los Angeles’ Good Food Purchasing Policy, in: Progressive Planning No. 197, Fall 2013
Los Angeles Food Policy Council, Good Food Purchasing Porgram: Redefining Food Procurement, 2015
Good Food Purchasing Program
Adopted first by the City of Los Angeles in 2012, the Good Food Purchasing Program achieved that in L.A. institutions, which serve about 750,000 meals a day, children get more local, sustainable, fair and humanely produced food to eat.