©Xavier Remongin/Min.agri.fr Meal in the Cafeteria of Saint-Fargeau-Pont-Thierry

©Xavier Remongin/Min.agri.fr Meal in the Cafeteria of Saint-Fargeau-Pont-Thierry

Public food service providers in France now have a new tool to use to help them develop their supply of local, high-quality food. Localim, a portmanteau of “Local” and a French word for food, “alimentation,” is designed to serve as a sort of tool box for people in charge of making food purchasing decisions in the public food service industry that serves places like school cafeterias, hospitals, nursing homes and other local institutions.

These sorts of public food service establishments account for a large portion of the food service industry. In 2010, more than 3 billion meals were served by this part of the food services industry in France, accounting for nearly $545 million a year.

The Localim tool box is designed to encourage food purchasers to better understand the importance of buying local, high quality food for their cafeterias. Multiple thematic documents are provided to users to learn information about local food purchasing and tips for how to find the highest quality products. Organic agriculture and products that come from farms that have obtained France’s “High Environmental Value” label are encouraged for purchase due to their positive benefits for the environment. Products that benefit from protected designation of origin status are also strongly encouraged, as well as doing as much as possible to reduce food waste and to purchase locally whenever possible.

©Pascal Xicluna/Min.Agri.Fr - Food Donation's Policy of the Hospital of Mans, to fight against food waste

©Pascal Xicluna/Min.Agri.Fr – Food Donation’s Policy of the Hospital of Mans, to fight against food waste

Additionally, detailed guides for virtually every type of food product imaginable in a public food service cafeteria are available to help educate purchasers in order to make the best possible decisions for their establishments. For example, the guide for cheeses and dairy products contains detailed descriptions of various quality signs, tips for purchasing from producers with better animal management practices, information on the different types of cheeses and dairy products available on the market, and examples of technical specifications to ask for when making purchases. The guide then lays out the advantages of all of this information and gives advice for which types of establishment might want to seek out different products or production methods.

The highly detailed information in the Localim tool box is aimed at turning the public food services industry into a tool in the provision of high-quality products that respect the environment. With their large footprint in the agriculture industry, even small changes by these establishments on a large scale can have an enormous impact.