Northwest Food Buyers’ Alliance

Local food. Seasonal menus. Healthy eaters. Restorative agriculture. Thriving local economies. Vibrant rural & urban communities. Equitable access to good food.

  • Tip #25

    Focus on less meat and better meat.

    In clever kitchens, meat is roaming away from the "center of the plate" and instead being used as an ingredient, or even condiment. Look to Asian cuisines for ample inspiration on how to use meat sparingly and deliciously. Purchasing high quality meat pays dividends to animal, eater, and environment.

  • Tip #28

    Go whole hog (or cow).

    Go whole hog (or cow) for the ultimate in sustainable meat purchasing. Buying meat in primals is least expensive for you, easiest for your ranch partners, and a great training opportunity and culinary challenge for your staff.

  • Tip #40

    Ask your contract baker where they source their grains.

    Oregon and Washington farmers on both sides of the mountains are growing whole grains that can't be beat.

  • Tip #31

    Partner with ranchers to get creative.

    Asking what cuts they're long on will help you identify what they need to move, open up the potential for culinary creativity, and get the ball rolling to negotiate a lean price.

  • Tip #20

    Add a “Kitchen Sink Salad” to your menu.

    Toss bits and bites of a wide variety of vegetables and greens together with a delicious dressing, and voila! You’ve gifted yourself with the flexibility to serve what you’ve got.

  • Tip #50

    Localize your foodservice contracts.

    Want to meet a specified benchmark for local sourcing? Write that number into your RFP or contract renewal.

  • Tip #90

    Two words: nimble menus

    Develop seasonal guidelines and a bank of successful dishes, but shift toward planning the specifics only 8-10 days out so you can capitalize on what’s fresh and abundant.

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  • American Soul Brothers showcasing their sauces at the 3rd Annual Local Link, our vendor fair connecting regional food businesses to institutional buyers.

    Photo Credit: Diego Diaz
  • Matthew Steele, Executive Chef at PSU Eats, with product from Fishpeople Seafood at the 3rd Annual Local Link, our vendor fair connecting regional food businesses to institutional buyers.

    Photo Credit: Diego Diaz
  • Alliance members with hog farmer, Matt Alford, at Elkhorn Farm and Forge on the Pathways to Protein field trip, July 2017.

    NW Food Buyers' Alliance
  • Farmer Matt Alford of Elkhorn Farm and Forge talking to Alliance members about pastured pork on the Pathways to Protein field trip, July 2017.

    NW Food Buyers' Alliance
  • Bon Appetit Management Company Chef Andre Uribe explains his local sourcing tips and tricks to NWFBA members.

    Photo Credit: Shawn Linehan
  • Staff in a corporate cafe kitchen give NWFBA members a behind the scenes look at daily operations with fresh ingredients.

    Photo Credit: Shawn Linehan
  • Catering and boxed lunches can be a great place to test new local items and work out pricing.

    Photo Credit: Shawn Linehan
  • Chef Andre and Farmer Jesse have worked out a win-win partnership through lots of trial and error.

    Photo Credit: Shawn Linehan
  • Farmer Jesse from Stoneboat Farm explains which products he's able to supply in wholesale quantities.

    Photo Credit: Shawn Linehan
  • Susan Arakelian and Lisa Vincent, Beaverton School District, are active NWFBA members.

    Photo Credit: Shawn Linehan

We are schools, hospitals, colleges and universities, assisted living centers, correctional institutions, corporate campuses, event venues and foodservice operators of all kinds, working together to build healthier, more resilient communities by sourcing and serving good food from within our regions.

We meet regularly to share ideas, visit producers, train staff, and solve problems.

We purchase from the many, not just the few. We seek producers working to responsibly steward land, water and other vital natural and human resources.

We build menus based on what’s in season, and celebrate all that the Pacific Northwest has to offer.

We are innovators. We are partners. We run successful businesses. We’re working together to make good food affordable at our scale.

We are the NW Food Buyers’ Alliance.

We welcome foodservice directors and staff, administrators and procurement agents from institutions across the Pacific Northwest. Is your kitchen a member yet?

Impact

81 participating institutions

213,528 meals served per day

114% increase in local purchasing by member institutions 2014-2016

Members Include

Events

  • Local & Underloved Fish Cooking Demo

    Wednesday, March 14, 2018
    02:00 PM – 05:00 PM

    Join the NW Food Buyers’ Alliance at the University of Portland for a lively and engaging culinary demo focused exclusively on sustainable, affordable, local, underutilized fish – how to source it, how to cook it, and how to help your diners love it. Talk to fishermen from right here in the Pacific Northwest, get menu and preparation tips from successful foodservice operators, and glean nutrition and conservation information that will hook your eaters. Eventbrite - Local and Underloved Fish Culinary Demo

    Event contact Aaron Vargas avargas@ecotrust.org

  • Blended Burger Tasting

    Thursday, February 15, 2018
    09:00 AM – 11:00 AM

    Local proteins and plant-based diets are two of the biggest trends in dining – great for eater health, the health of the planet, and the health of your bottom line! You’re invited to come try a brand new product that helps achieve “less meat, better meat” goals – a local, premium grass-fed beef burger blended with mushrooms, designed specifically for foodservice. You’ll get to taste the product, ask questions directly of the rancher and provide feedback. This tasting will take place at Dick's Primal Burger at 4905 SE Woodstock Blvd, Portland OR.

    RSVP by February 8th to reserve your spot by sending an email to: avargas@ecotrust.org

  • 2017 Local Link - Fall Vendor Fair

    Wednesday, October 11, 2017
    09:00 AM – 11:00 AM

    For wholesale food buyers interested in making connections with local producers, Local Link is the place to be. The event is open to members of the Northwest Food Buyers’ Alliance and all institutional food service staff interested in finding new local products and building relationships that will lead to viable solutions for large-scale, local sourcing. This year's vendor fair will once again take place at the Redd on Salmon Street, Ecotrust's working hub for the regional food economy in inner SE Portland, Oregon. We had more than 40 vendors last year - grab a ticket now and join us! Eventbrite - Local Link 2017 - Buyer Registration

    For questions email: avargas@ecotrust.org

  • Pathways to Protein Summer Field Trip

    Tuesday, July 25, 2017
    08:30 AM – 05:00 PM

    You may have heard "less meat, better meat" before, but what does it mean to produce good meat at scale in our region? This field trip will take us to Dayton Natural Meats cut-up facility in Tualatin. Dayton is a USDA-certified meat processing facility in Oregon that primarily processes meat for its parent company, Pacific Foods. We'll have a chance to see their ovens, processing and packing lines in action for organic chickens and turkey. Next, we'll visit Elkhorn Farm & Forge in Gaston to see their humanely-raised, heritage breed pasture pork. We'll also get to taste that delicious pork straight from the smoker and eat a picnic lunch on site. We'll also visit Mt Angel Meat Company, a USDA-certified facility that is more than 100 years old and the only animal-welfare approved processor on the west coast.

    RSVP to secure your spot avargas@ecotrust.org

  • Spring Meeting: The Protein Project & Seeking Solutions with Soup

    Wednesday, April 26, 2017
    11:00 AM – 01:00 PM

    Ecotrust, Billy Frank Jr. Conference Room 721 NW Ninth Ave. Portland OR 97209

    The annual spring meeting of the NW Food Buyers’ Alliance is all about the FOOD: tasty eats in your belly + food for thought. The first course will be delicious scratch-made soups, featuring ingredients sourced locally from certified organic farmers and served with a big helping of ideas for reducing food waste in our region. Next up is a meaty main course with the aim of getting high quality, high animal welfare local pork and other proteins to regional cafeterias. You’ll taste delicious local pastured pork also go home with samples to test back in your own kitchen.

    Please RSVP by April 20th so we have a headcount for lunch!

    RSVP to secure your spot: nwfba@food-hub.org

  • Webinar: Strategies for Sourcing Better Meat

    Tuesday, February 28, 2017
    12:00 PM – 01:00 PM

    Join us for some lunch hour learning! Our main speaker is Andrew deCoriolis, Director of Strategic Programs and Engagement at Farm Forward, an organization that implements innovative strategies to promote conscientious food choices, reduce farmed animal suffering, and advance sustainable agriculture. Andrew will share strategies for institutions wishing to source more local and higher welfare animal products. He will introduce the most relevant animal welfare issues, discuss third party certifications, and talk about how to identify higher-welfare suppliers. The presentation will highlight creative cost effective solutions that institutions can use to incorporate higher-welfare animal products into menus. We'll also hear from two NW Food Buyer's Alliance members based at Oregon Health and Sciences University and Air BnB corporate headquarters, who will share their challenges and successes sourcing and serving local and sustainable proteins in their foodservice operations. 

    RSVP to secure your spot: nwfba@food-hub.org

  • Local Link - 2016 Fall Vendor Fair

    Thursday, October 13, 2016
    09:00 AM – 11:00 AM

    This year's vendor fair will once again take place at the Redd on Salmon Street, Ecotrust's working hub for the regional food economy in inner SE Portland, Oregon. Based on feedback we received last year, this year's fair will be shorter and more focused than last year with increased opportunities for engagement with vendors.

    To RSVP, please email NWFBA@food-hub.org

  • Yamhill County Field Trip

    Friday, September 16, 2016
    09:00 AM – 04:30 PM

    We'll take a trip out to Yamhill County to visit the kitchens and cafeterias of McMinnville School District and one of their suppliers, Stephens Farm. We'll end the day with a trip to Stoller Winery for some wine tasting and community conversation before we head back to Portland.

    To RSVP, please email NWFBA@food-hub.org

  • The Whole Hog Session

    Tuesday, April 12, 2016
    09:00 AM – 11:00 AM

    Hosted at Ecotrust, this event showed how purchasing whole animals can make high quality regional meats affordable for institutional foodservice operations. We also revealed the new NW Food Buyers’ Alliance website (the one you're reading right now!), and handed out copies of the our new publication Buying Local at Scale: Fruits & Veg, written specifically for foodservice operators keen to source locally grown fruits and vegetables, and featuring many members (also available as a download from this site).

  • Local Link

    Wednesday, October 28, 2015
    09:00 AM – 12:00 PM

    Hosted at The Redd on Salmon Street, Local Link featured 34 vendors. From farmers, ranchers, and fishermen, to specialty producers and distributors, each of the vendors met and mingled with more than 50 attendees.

  • Farm & Foodservice Fieldtrip to Hillsboro

    Wednesday, July 22, 2015
    09:00 AM – 11:00 AM

    This field trip featured a visit out to Intel's Hillsboro campus and nearby Stone Boat Farm, which supplies the campus with produce.

  • The Solutions Session

    Wednesday, April 08, 2015
    09:00 AM – 11:00 AM

    This spring meeting at the Oregon Department of Agriculture's Food Innovation Center drew on the collective wisdom of buyer members to identify strategies and best practices for procuring local and sustainable foods in institutional settings. This session provided the foundation for the Northwest Food Buyers Alliance document, Buy Local: 99 Tips for Large Operators.

  • ”Feeding our community fresh, local, organic food is a priority at our school. Young folk will eat healthy food. Keeping it simple and keeping it real are the keys to success here—no gimmicks needed! Change is possible in any organization or home. Start small by picking one thing to change, mastering that and moving on to the next item to change.”

    Leslie Shalduha, Food Service Director, Lewis & Clark Montessori Charter School
  • “Exploiting seasonality sometimes works to our advantage. Consumers don’t buy much watermelon after Labor Day, which leaves Eastern Oregon farmers with a crop they can’t sell. Kids love watermelon! So we buy delicious Hermiston watermelon at peak ripeness for a great price, while helping extend the season for local farmers (sometimes all the way to October). Win-win all around.”

    Gitta Grether-Sweeney, Portland Public Schools
  • “I buy whole animals raised really well, and have trained my staff to break them down. It’s by far the best pricing, and we get to use every part of the animal, including the bones and fat. Our food tastes darn good as a result!”

    Andre Uribe, Bon Appetit Management Company
  • “Food is a vital part of health, wellness, patient recovery and staff productivity, so it makes sense for us, as a health care facility, to support food production and distribution in a way that promotes human and environmental health. Our purchasing dollars bolster patient and staff health, feed local agriculture, circulate money in our community, and help build a local food system that reflects our commitment to holistic health and wellness.”

    Eecole Copen, Oregon Health and Sciences University
  • “Staff support is critical in our mission to serve local, seasonal foods. We use a train-the-trainer model to help educate staff and build skill sets. Good stories helps us engage staff and customers. We hope our folks can always answer the question ‘where’s this from?’.”

    Fernando Divina, Oregon Health and Sciences University

Member Benefits

Joining the NW Food Buyers’ Alliance is free and open to any Oregon or Washington institution, including early childhood programs, K-12 schools, colleges and universities, hospitals and health systems, long-term care facilities, correctional institutions, corporate cafes, and specialty or event venues.

By signing up, you get:

  • A regional network The NWFBA is a peer-to-peer network of foodservice directors and staff. Reach your goals and build a lasting local food purchasing program for your institution with the help of others already doing it! Participants meet quarterly to share ideas, go on fieldtrips to farms and institutions, and meet local vendors.
  • Resources for buying, using and promoting northwest foods Discover new ways to buy and use seasonal foods with our toolkits, and use marketing posters to promote these foods in your cafeteria or food program.
  • Support for tracking your progress Want to show your eaters, administration or staff what impact you’re making? Get ideas and support for collecting data and reporting results.


This website is hosted on FoodHub to help members make direct connections with producers. If you're not already a FoodHub member, joining is easy and free. Click here to get started. If you have questions about the NW Food Buyers’ Alliance, please email NWFBA@food-hub.org.

Projects

Cultivating Large-Scale Demand for Oregon Fruits and Vegetables

This project increased both market demand for Oregon grown specialty crops by large-scale food buyers and access to healthy local foods for vulnerable populations in Oregon and SW Washington by facilitating networking and best-practice sharing and providing education and support for overcoming barriers. From 2014-2016, the NW Food Buyers' Alliance saw a 114% increase in local purchasing by participating institutions, facilitating a significant shift in procurement budgets and exceeding its 5% target. Through outreach, Ecotrust increased the number of foodservice directors on the alliance by 65%, from 49 to 81. Collectively, members serve well over 125,000 meals per day in Oregon. A 2017 survey of buyers showed that 100% of respondents increased engagement as a result of the project. Project activities included the development of: an engagement platform with a logo and brand, a website, an e-newsletter, and the guide Buying Local at Scale, designed to attract new prospects. Ecotrust also hosted three educational member meetings, two field trips to farms and kitchens, and two vendor fairs connecting large scale buyers with local producers and distributors.

Interested?

Contact: Stacey Sobell, ssobell@ecotrust.org

Growing the Market for Oregon Organic/ Transitioning Farmers

In March 2016, Oregon Tilth released a report, Analysis of the Organic Market in Oregon. We set out to identify concrete information about supply gaps in Oregon in order to connect Oregon farmers with economic opportunities within organic production systems. The report illustrates the value of facilitating networking opportunities that are geared toward connecting farmers and buyers directly as a means for communicating supply needs. In addition, we identified several factors that are constraining the supply of organic specialty crops and created recommendations for addressing issues in Oregon.

Interested?

Contact: Tanya Murray, tanya@tilth.org

Building a Values Based Supply Chain for Chicken in Oregon’s Institutions

From 2014-2016 Ecotrust engaged in research that examined what it would take to build a values-based supply chain for chicken in Oregon’s institutions. We found that meeting institutional demand for differentiated, local chicken in our region will likely necessitate a wholesale transformation of our chicken supply chain. Our findings suggest multiple solutions on a number of fronts, including investments in key links in the supply chain, support to coordinate institutional demand with local supply, and a distributed network of regional production and processing nodes. You can read all about it in this report .

Interested?

Contact: Stacey Sobell, ssobell@ecotrust.org

Organics to Hospitals

This project aims to leverage purchasing power of Oregon healthcare institutions to drive regional markets for foods produced without the use of synthetic pesticides by building connections between health care facilities and local growers that are organic or transitioning to organic production.  The project will build awareness of critical human and environmental health issues, identify strategies to increase hospital purchasing and demonstrate a market shift that can be replicated by other hospitals and in other regions.

Interested?

Contact: Jenna Newbrey, jnewbrey@hcwh.org

Regional Food System Infrastructure Gap Analysis

Ecotrust explored the “black box” of food system aggregation, processing and distribution in Oregon to identify gaps in scaling local and regional food systems. Get the highlights and access the full report here: www.food-hub.org/intrepid

Interested?

Contact: Amanda Oborne, aoborne@ecotrust.org

Steering Committee

NW Food Buyers’ Alliance is coordinated and supported by a coalition of organizations, including Ecotrust, Healthcare Without Harm, the Oregon Department of Agriculture, and Oregon Tilth. Donations from generous individuals, foundations, and companies fund our projects.

several logos from steering committee members including Ecotrust, Multnomah County, Healthcare Without Harm and Oregon Tilth