Buying locally really can make a difference. The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) found this out in 2012 after adopting a good food purchasing program (GFPP)—a policy that gives institutions a framework for buying local, sustainable, and humanely sourced food. After the school district implemented the program, its produce and bread distributor, Gold Star Foods, changed its business practices to meet the GFPP guidelines and keep LAUSD as a client. This created a ripple effect: Gold Star added 65 new jobs and began sourcing its bread from Shepherd’s Grain network, a sustainable agriculture enterprise; Shepherd’s Grain, in turn, expanded its network of more than 40 wheat farms across the West Coast in order to provide the 160,000 bushels needed each year to serve the school district.

When it adopted the GFPP seven years ago, LAUSD kicked off a burgeoning movement across the country that has since seen a city, county, and several other school districts institute these programs. School districts in Cincinnati, San Francisco, Oakland, and Washington, D.C., have implemented GFPP policies, as has the Cook County Board of Commissioners, which represents the Chicagoland area.

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