The Center’s Mission

The Farm to Institution Center has a two-fold mission:

1) To improve community health by improving access and consumption of healthy foods

2) To support farmers in creation of a vibrant, diverse, and growing local agricultural scene.

The Center works to create this healthy and sustainable local food system, focusing primarily on the connection between local farm and institution as a pathway of good food into the community.

Further Background

The Farm to Institution Center is a division of Community Health Improvement Partners (CHIP). Established in 1995, CHIP has been a leader in innovative, collaborative solutions to address critical community health issues in the San Diego region.

CHIP brings together diverse partners to assess community health needs, educate, and advocate to create policy, systems and environmental change which reduce health disparities. CHIP provides backbone support to plan, coordinate, and support collaborative initiatives to solve our most complex health problems.

CHIP signature programs and initiatives include the San Diego County Childhood Obesity Initiative, Suicide Prevention Council, Resident Leadership Academy, Lemon Grove HEAL Zone, REACH Chula Vista, Independent Living Association, Farm to School Taskforce, Nutrition in Healthcare Leadership Team, Farm to Institution Council, and Health Literacy San Diego.

Meet Our Team

Prem Durairaj

Prem Durairaj, MBA
Center Director

Since January 2017, Prem has led CHIP’s Food Systems work, now carrying that role over to the Center. Given his extensive business experience, Prem has a passion for supporting the business viability of local farmers by connecting them with institutions, providing greater community access to healthy foods. Prior to his current role, Prem worked in business development for a global development organization, leading to over $500m in new contracts. His experience includes work in cost effectiveness analyses for social impact programs and incorporation of innovative financing mechanisms for development. Prem hopes to connect the farm to institution market in a way that is sustainable from a business perspective on both ends of the spectrum, while improving the health of our community.

Nora Stewart
Program Manager

Nora earned a B.A in Public Health and a B.A. in Sociology from Pitzer College, and focused her education on sustainable food education programs. Professionally, Nora has managed nutrition, gardening and cooking education classes for 8+ years, consulting on over 50+ school and community garden builds. In her previous role, Nora worked with a national non-profit organization to build school garden programs within high-need communities. Nora moved to San Diego County and joined the Community Health Improvement Partners Food Systems team in February 2018. She is passionate about forming partnerships with communities to provide greater access to healthy foods and looks forward to bringing her experience to the Farm to Institution Center.

Dane Petersen
Program Coordinator

Dane earned a B.S. in Kinesiology and Health Promotion and a minor Psychology from California Polytechnic State University, Pomona. While earning his degree, Dane discovered his passion for community health while observing the health habits of members within the college community. Dane was born and raised in San Diego and is excited to support local farmers and the good food movement. Prior to his assistant position with the center, Dane interned for Community Health Improvement Partners during the summer of 2017, where he assisted with the coordination of the 5th Annual Good Food Showcase.

What We Do

As CHIP grows as an organization, it has become increasingly important to explicitly define the core values from which we develop our culture, our identity, and our business strategies.
These are the seven core values that we live by: