Institute for a Sustainable Future
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Anchor Institutions

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.

The Duluth Anchor Institution Food Hub Pilot Project

With support from the ISF Foundation and the Loyd K. Johnson Foundation, ISF convened area producers and anchor institutions over the course of six months. This project is working to explore the potential of creating a virtual, or physical, space to aggregate the purchasing demand of these institutions, while also meeting the needs of regional producers. Together the food hub team has created a shared "value statement".

On Monday, April 23rd, we launched the beginning of a Western Lake Superior Food Hub pilot project. Participating organizations include UMD, College of St. Scholastica, Essentia and St. Luke's. For background please read our Frequently Asked Questions.
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Essentia and St. Lukes Food Service Reps meet with Area Producers
St. Lukes CEO Signs Healthy Food in Healthcare Pledge
Essentia Chef Chad Nurminen Explaining Food Service Operations to Hub Team