Several New England colleges and universities are supporting the region's dairy farms by partnering with a program called Keep Local Farms (KLF).
The KLF program from the New England Dairy and Food Council helps educate people about the value of local dairy farms, raises funds to support New England dairy farms and works to drive dairy sales.
“Keep Local Farms launched in September of 2009,” said Jenny Karl, director of communications with KLF. “The program was created out of a brainstorm of how we could empower students and consumers to support local dairy farmers. Our goals were No. 1, to educate people about dairy farms, the value of them which goes beyond just producing a wholesome product, but also keeping land open, providing a habitat for wildlife and supporting local businesses through buying food and equipment and paying for veterinary services. The first piece was education on the value that farmers bring.”
She continued, “The second piece was to give consumers something to do, like a call to action on what to buy, how to buy those local products that will support those local farmers. The third thing that the program aimed to do was actually raise funds that would go to dairy farmers in our region to, in some way, show financial support for dairy farmers.”
The program seemed like a natural fit for college and university foodservice operations. “One of our first college partners was Harvard, which started in October of 2009,” said Karl. “UVM (University of Vermont) was very quick to follow. The colleges were some of our first partners on board with the program.” ...
The Galley convenience store at Penn State Erie, the Behrend College, is “very unique” — not because of the items in the store, but who owns it.
“In 2008-2009, the student body started a student facility fee,” said Michael Lindner, director of Housing and Food Services. “They decided that every student was going to pay $100 per semester to improve a certain aspect of campus that directly affects student life.”
Once the fund was established, students were surveyed to find out the top five things they would change on campus with this fund. “One of the items in the top three was a convenience store,” he said. “We had contemplated building one and finally one day they said, 'If we build the building, would you outfit, run the store and manage it for us?'”
Lindner was excited by the offer. “As you can imagine, a partnership like that is everybody's dream. We sat down with them and said, 'Yes, you build the facility and we would be proud and honored to manage the facility and to outfit the entire interior of the facility.'”
In exchange for the space, Food Services pays the fund back. “What the store does, since the student fee paid to build the space, is pay back a gross percentage of sales every year to the student facility fee,” he said. “They made the initial investment, and we will pay for the length of time we are in the space. The hope is that we will definitely pay back what they have invested, but that they will have a funding source in addition to just the student funding. They can then re-invest into other projects on campus.” ...