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Abstract

The centralized nature of the US food production, processing, and distribution system effectively precludes specialty crop producers, particularly those with small-scale operations, from serving as suppliers to institutional food service operations (schools, hospitals, etc.). Due to age, economic, and/or health status, it is often the clients of these food services who would most benefit from an increase in their consumption of specialty crops. Institutions, however, are often limited in their resources and lack the market-based incentives to incorporate these foods into their menu planning. This study seeks to identify and suggest solutions to the barriers that limit the ability of small and medium-scale specialty crops producers from serving as suppliers to institutional foodservices. Several common barriers were identified which were consistent with those previously reported in other studies. This study also identified unique marketing challenges with regard to delivery challenges, required certifications and food-safety practices, and insurance requirements. Potential solutions to these barriers are identified and reviewed.

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