A recent economic impact analysis indicates that Oregon’s investment in purchasing locally produced foods for school lunchrooms fortifies the state’s economy with dollars previously spent elsewhere. The study by Ecotrust examines the impact of investing school food dollars in the local food economy and was released as part of a review of the local buying practices currently underway in two public school districts in Oregon, Gervais and Portland.
In those districts, school foodservice directors are using a philanthropic investment made by the Kaiser Permanente Community Fund at the Northwest Health Foundation to test the impact of “farm to school” policies currently being debated in the Oregon Legislature. Much like the legislation currently under consideration, the Kaiser Permanente grant allocates funds on a per meal basis (seven cents per lunch served) to a combined total of 91 schools in Gervais and Portland for the express purpose of buying more Oregon grown, processed and manufactured food for the lunchroom.
Early results indicate that over a 14 week time period last fall, the two districts received $66,193 in Kaiser Permanente grant funds. Those funds, in turn, catalyzed $225,869 in local purchasing. The data reveal three key findings.
First, that a small amount of money can leverage much greater investment in local purchasing, as the Kaiser Permanente grant dollars encouraged a 72 percent increased investment in local foods.
Second, an input-output analysis shows that for every food dollar spent locally by the two school districts, an additional 87 cents was spent in Oregon, generating a multiplier of 1.87 for farm to school spending.
Finally, that the economic benefits of investments made in the Oregon agricultural community trigger successive spending in almost every sector of the Oregon economy.