We connect good, local food with institutions to build a more vibrant, healthier community
Collaboratives 2018-10-12T22:27:04+00:00

Our Collaboratives

The Farm to Institution Center grows the region’s farm-to-institution movement by setting a regional agenda, facilitating county-wide farm-to-institution collaboratives, brokering good food deals, market research, events, training, technical assistance. By working closely with San Diego County schools, hospitals, local government, farmers, produce distributors, good food businesses, and community partners, the center is helping bring more local, healthful, and sustainable food to hundreds of thousands of people across the County.

The Farm to Institution Center has adopted a three-tiered definition, raised, or produced:

  • In San Diego County (Tier 1)
  • Within 250 miles of San Diego County (Tier 2)
  • In California (Tier 3)

The F2I Center “local” definition is designed to prioritize food grown in San Diego County (Tier 1), but incorporates aspects of other common definitions of “local” (e.g. within a certain mile radius, state level) and allows for a greater volume and range of products at competitive prices to be considered in district’ efforts to source local.

Farm to School Taskforce

The mission of the San Diego County Farm to School Taskforce (F2ST) is to increase consumption of local, healthful, seasonal foods and to improve food literacy within schools. In 2015, the F2ST had 38 members consisting of 23 school districts, eight local food and farm businesses, and seven community partners. The F2ST vision is that San Diego County schoolchildren enjoy healthy foods that maximize seasonal and local products that bolster student achievement and wellness.

San Diego County school districts purchase $19 million in locally grown food annually, representing 25% of their overall food procurements. They also operate over 200 school gardens and over 400 salad bars. Together, F2ST members represent 90% of all school meals served in San Diego County, 85% of school gardens, 99% of the local food purchases. F2ST members conducted roughly twice as many F2S activities as non-members. The F2ST and its member districts are local, state, and national farm-to-school leaders, and serve as a model for how a region can collaboratively grow the farm-to-school movement.

The F2ST started in 2010 as a subcommittee of the San Diego County Childhood Obesity Initiative’s (COI) Schools and After-School Domain. The COI is a 10-year Collective Impact initiative to reduce and prevent childhood obesity in San Diego County through policy, systems, and environmental change. The Farm to Institution Center (F2I Center) serves as the “backbone organization” that facilitates both the COI and the F2ST.


  1. Increase education and awareness about the connection between regional food systems and student health and well-being.
  2. Create and foster opportunities for collaboration among farm to school stakeholders.
  3. Increase farm to school in San Diego County school districts.
  4. Promote San Diego County farm to school activities.
  5. Increase opportunities to advance and enhance farm to school through policy.

F2ST Chairs:

  • Mark Mendoza, Director of Child Nutrition Services, Cajon Valley Union School District
  • Sandy Hindi, Registered Dietitian for Child Nutrition Services, National School District

Nutrition in Healthcare Leadership Team

The mission of the Nutrition in Healthcare Leadership Team (NHLT) is to advance healthful, sustainable food and beverage practices in San Diego County healthcare systems through collaboration. Over a dozen San Diego County hospitals and health systems regularly participate in the NHLT. The NHLT is one of several statewide hospital leadership teams affiliated with Healthcare Without Harm’s Healthy Food in Healthcare Program. The vision for the NHLT is that San Diego County healthcare systems promote optimal health by ensuring all foods and beverages served are healthy, fresh, affordable, and produced in a manner that supports the local economy, environment, and community.

Over the last six years, NHLT hospitals have reduced meat offerings and serving sizes, increased purchases of meat and poultry raised without the routine use of medically important antibiotics, increased their purchases of local and sustainable foods, improved their beverage and vending policies, and reduced or eliminated sugar-sweetened beverages.

The NHLT started in 2011 as a subcommittee of the San Diego County Childhood Obesity Initiative’s (COI) Healthcare Domain. The COI is a 10-year Collective Impact initiative to reduce and prevent childhood obesity in San Diego County through policy, systems, and environmental change.The Farm to Institution Center (F2I Center) serves as the “backbone organization” that facilitates the NHLT.

Co-Chairs of the NHLT

  • Cynthia Ann Dahl, Quality Assurance RD, NHA at Plum Healthcare Group, LLC
  • Kathleen Bundy, Director of Food & Nutrition Services at SD County Psychiatric Hospital / Food Management Associates San Diego

Farm to Institution Council

As the most recent collaborative group, the Farm to Institution Council was established in June 2017 as a means of incorporating other institutions into a group that follows some of the main collective impact principles established through the F2ST and NHLT. The goal of the Council is to identify, focus, and find solutions for many of the prevailing challenges growers, distributors, and institutional buyers face in connecting the good food market. Some of these challenges are:

  • Cost
  • The need for items in high volume
  • Feasibility of purchasing from small farms
  • Transparency in supply chain
  • Local product not available by broad-line distributors

By focusing on challenge areas, the Council will systematically address key barriers to supporting local farm viability and greater access to healthy foods in our community.


Through the first few meetings of the Farm to Institution Council, the Farm to Institution Center has partnered with organizations to begin working on collective purchasing initiatives and an online marketplace pilot program, both projects in development for 2018.

Other Collaboratives

The organizations in the National Farm to Institution Metrics Collaborative work across the country to measure and track the impact of the institutional market from producer to buyer. There are 30 members based in 20 states working at municipal, county, multi-county, state, regional, and national levels. Quarterly calls are held and occasional in-person meetings; offer opportunities for collaborative partnership; and provide a platform for sharing best practices, foundational metrics terminology, tools and resources.