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Farm to Table Extends Campaign to Major Institutions

Louisville’s Farm to Table program, which encourages businesses to use local produce whenever possible, is trying to expand its presence in major local institutions.Louisville is a $3 billion food market, according to a 2008 study from Market Ventures Inc. It’s now the goal of Louisville Metro Government for local farmers to support 10 percent of that market by 2020.Program coordinator Sarah Fritschner is now working with the University of Louisville, Jefferson County Public Schools and Jewish/St. Mary’s Health System.“I go to U of L for four hours a week and for four hours a week I work directly with the folks there who are trying to make this happen. So I can say to them, I can help you do this,” said Fritschner.The job is difficult, especially in businesses that are accustomed to signing contracts will mass suppliers, she said.“There are no systems set up to handle local foods. When I got this job all local food came into the city on the back of a pick up truck. Well the docks at JCPS can hardly accept something out of a pickup truck. They’re set up for semis,” said Fritschner.The job is made more difficult once she explains that right now contracting with local farmers is at best a comparable cost to what the institutions are paying with current suppliers, she said.But as the program grows, the investment could pay off, she said.