Hospitals and Educational Institutions are key anchor institutions, place-based organizations firmly established in their communities. There is a growing recognition about the responsibility and benefit of linking their economic activity to the socio-economic health of the communities in which they are anchored.
Across the US, communities are exploring ways of rebuilding local and regional food systems to meet the multiple ecological, health and community problems associated with our present industrial food system. The role of anchor institutions — large community based universities and healthcare institutions — and their relationship to their communities and the local food system needs to change. Rather than working independently, these entities need to work collaboratively to utilize their inherent market position and outreach potential to foster an active and vibrant social fabric.
We need to develop community-based models that support collaboration. It is increasingly likely that these will be bio-regionally or mega-regionally based. Ideally, we develop food distribution and procurement models that fit the local food shed and as a result reflect the cultural food values of those communitiess.